Pre-Race 63rd NHRA Winternationals

Matt. Hagan

Weather in Pomona will be cooler for this year’s Winternationals. What effect will that play in setting up cars for trickier track conditions?

“The cooler weather plays into our favor and Dickie’s (Venables – crew chief) combination of being able to run hard and make a lot of power. He has a good handle on things when we roll into cool weather conditions. It could be where some of these guys don’t make enough power and the track is so tight and they shake the tires. You walk a fine line out there, so you may see some tire shake from other cars that don’t make the power that Dickie does.”

2023 marks 63 years the NHRA has been racing at Pomona. It’ll be the start of a new era with the newly-named In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip. While In-N-Out has had a presence in the sport in the past, how significant is it to the growth of the NHRA welcoming new track title sponsors?

“Pomona is such a special place. Up until this year, we started and finished the season there and crowned a champion there. There is a lot history and good memories there. To have In-N-Out come in and sponsor the race track is awesome and iconic. Their burgers are popular on the West Coast. My friend is a Twin Palms sponsor on my car and he always brings In-N-Out for my guys anytime we are in Pomona and I know they get excited about that. It’s great to have them back in the sport. Anytime we have new title sponsors, it is good for growth.”

You’ll be representing Haas Automation on your Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car. How special is it getting an opportunity to display some of the same sponsors from Tony Stewart’s NASCAR program with co-owner Gene Haas?

“To be able to represent Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) with Tony Stewart and co-owner Gene Haas is awesome. I never would have dreamed of being a position of having a guy that is your team owner that is so famous and well-known in so many different aspects of motorsports. Tony has made good business decisions and created good partnerships. I am proud to be able to represent Haas Automation this weekend. In Charlotte, we bring a lot of people over from the SHR program and there is a lot of integration between us and the circle-track folks that may not be as familiar with what we do. We all tap into the same fan group and I feel like the same people like enjoy watching NASCAR are the same folks that enjoy watching us go over 300 miles an hour straight. I think it’s a good crossover, so hopefully we can get them a good finish. We have a good history of going rounds and winning races and championships in Pomona, so if I was a betting man, I’d bet on me.”

  • The NHRA Winternationals will be Hagan’s 318th career Funny Car start. It’ll be his 28th overall start at Pomona and his 15th in the Winternationals. He’s recorded three career wins at the Winternationals in 2015, 2017 and 2018. In 2015, he defeated Ron Capps with a 4.011 ET at 320.89 mph (compared to Capps’ 4.078 ET, 314.97 mph run). In 2017, Hagan’s 3.875 ET at 330.67 mph defeated Courtney Force (3.901 ET at 326.95 mph). In 2018, Hagan defeated Robert Hight with a 3.823 ET at 335.90 mph run (compared to Hight’s 3.866 ET, 336.99 mph run). Hagan has three No. 1 qualifiers at Pomona, which came in 2017 (3.822 ET at 335.57 mph), 2018 (3.822 ET at 336.32 mph) and 2020 (3.841 ET at 333.25 mph).
  • Hagan is the current track record holder at Pomona for elapsed time at 3.822-seconds, a mark he set on February 11, 2017.