2013 NHRA: Matt Hagan NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Event Preview
There's work to be done at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend for Matt Hagan and the Rocky Boots/Mopar Funny Car team, and they are ready for the challenge.
At the previous NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event two weeks ago near Reading, Pa., Hagan relinquished possession of the points lead in the Funny Car class to 15-time champion John Force. Hagan had led the points since racing at Englishtown, N.J., in early June.
The Rocky Boots team led by crew chief Dickie Venables tested on Oct. 9 at Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis. It was Venable's first test session with the team this year.
"I'm ready to get back in the swing of things after this break," Hagan said. "We have a lot to get done in Vegas. It's a make or break race for us. If we do really well there then we're still in the fight and could possibly win a championship."
Force holds a 65-point lead - or a little more than three rounds of racing - over the Rocky/Mopar team.
"We have to get focused and make sure we go some rounds on Sunday. We can't really control what anyone else does. We can only control what we do. The rest of it will have to take care of itself.
"I'm confident. Our guys are confident; they are rested up and ready to go. We just have to get back in the saddle."
Hagan has a win-loss record in eliminations of 36-18 this season that includes four event titles. Ten of those round losses have come to his teammates at Don Schumacher Racing.
"It's so tough racing my teammates. You look at our round losses in the Countdown and three out of the four are to our DSR teammates. It's just tough."
But Hagan knows the task that lies ahead.
"There's no room for error. We've got to have two good races, he's (Force) just got to have one bad one, and it's got to play out that way. It's very doable, it's possible. You have to be confident.
"We just have to focus on what our car can do and not really who's beside us, as hard as that is to do with a 15-time champ out there. But we can't control how he qualifies, we can't control who he runs, we can't control how many rounds he goes. We've just got to go out there and try to go four rounds on Sunday and turn four win lights on and do it for two more races. I believe we can do it. I know that's a steep hill to climb, but I've never won back to back, and I sure would like to these last two races."
MATT HAGAN, Rocky Boots/Mopar Dodge Charger R/T
Last event (Oct. 4-6, Reading, Pa.): Qualified No. 4; lost in second round to teammate Ron Capps.
Last race at Las Vegas (April 5-7, 2013): Qualified No. 6; lost in semifinals to Courtney Force.
Last October at Las Vegas: Qualified No. 4; lost in second round to teammate Johnny Gray.
October totals at Las Vegas: Wins 0; Runner-ups 1 (2010); Poles 1 (2009) April totals at Las Vegas: Wins 0; Runner-ups 1 (2009); Poles 0 Career totals for Las Vegas: Wins 0; Runner-ups 2; Poles 0
Pts Events Titles Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2013 2nd 22 4 4 1 7 6 5 0 36-18
Career 118 9 14 16 37 38 15 4 146-105
NHRA Countdown to the Championship standings
(Through Oct. 6 eliminations at Maple Grove Raceway; DSR drivers in CAPS)
FUNNY CAR points (wins)
1. John Force 2,457 (3) --
2. MATT HAGAN 2,392 (4) - 65
3. JACK BECKMAN 2,331 (0) -126
4. Robert Hight 2,323 (2) -134
5. Cruz Pedregon 2,307 (4) -150
6. RON CAPPS 2,297 (3) -160
7. Courtney Force 2,266 (2) -191
8. JOHNNY GRAY 2,223 (4) -234
9. Del Worsham 2,214 (0) -243
10. Tim Wilkerson 2,175 (0) -282
2013 REGULAR SEASON WINNERS: C. Force, CAPPS, GRAY, C. Pedregon, HAGAN, C. Pedregon, GRAY, GRAY, HAGAN, J. Force, C. Force, HAGAN, GRAY, C. Pedregon, CAPPS, HAGAN, CAPPS, Hight.
2013 COUNTDOWN WINNERS: Hight (Charlotte), C. Pedregon (Dallas), J. Force (St. Louis), J. Force (Reading).
Countdown to the Championship schedule/results
Sept. 13-15 zMAX Dragway, Concord, N.C.
(Finals: TF - Lucas def. MASSEY; FC - Hight def. HAGAN)
Sept. 19-22 Texas Motorplex, Dallas
(Finals: TF - Kalitta def. Langdon; FC- C. Pedregon def. J. Force)
Sept. 27-29 Gateway Motorsports Park, St. Louis
(Finals: TF - BROWN def. alBalooshi; FC - J. Force def. BECKMAN)
Oct. 3-6 Maple Grove Raceway, Reading, Pa.
(Finals: TF - Langdon def. BROWN; FC - J. Force def. Chad Head)
Oct. 24-27 Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas
Nov. 7-10 Auto Club Raceway, Pomona, Calif.
NHRA Nationals event information
Weekend schedule (times are PDT)
Thursday: 6-8 p.m., DSR autograph session New York New York lobby
Friday: 2 p.m., 4:30 p.m., nitro qualifying
Saturday: 1 p.m., 3:30 p.m., nitro qualifying
Sunday: 11 a.m., championship eliminations
On ESPN2 (times are ET)
Saturday: qualifying, TBD
Sunday: eliminations, 8 p.m. Sunday (delayed)
(As of Monday, Oct. 21)
Friday, Oct. 25: High 81 degrees; 0 percent chance of rain
Saturday, Oct. 26: High 80 degrees; 0 percent chance of rain
Sunday, Oct. 27: High 78 degrees; 0 percent chance of rain