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Mar 26, 2014 - 06:24 AM
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2014 NHRA: Matt Hagan SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals Event Preview
Posted by: newsla on Mar 26, 2014 - 06:24 AM
2014 NHRA: Matt Hagan SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals Event Preview

Matt Hagan and the Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots team are going back to what they know for the 15th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend.


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After starting the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season with a runner-up finish, the Mopar team led by crew chief Dickie Venables has suffered opening-round losses in NHRA eliminations near Phoenix and Gainesville, Fla.

After the Gainesville event Venables noted that it was time to get back to racing with what they know is a proven combination.

"We're working on it and we'll continue to test new things but it might be time to go back to what we know and what is proven for race day," he said. "It's early in the season and we'll get our combination figured out."

The Mopar team earned five event titles (Charlotte 1, Englishtown, Chicago, Seattle, Pomona) last season with the car and combination they will take to Las Vegas.

"We're coming out with our old car and our old combination from last year," said Matt. "We won five races with it and I think that we can do well. We have a lot of data to go off of and Dickie and (assistant crew chief) Mike Knudsen feel very positive and strong about it. I'm excited to crawl back in our old race car and get that old feeling back and go have some fun in Vegas."

Qualifying at the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway begins on Friday at 2 p.m. (PT).

"They will pull it together and we will run well," Matt said. "I'm sure there will be a learning period again but I'm confident in their decision. I'm coming in with a big smile and a positive attitude and I'm hopeful that we can get this turned around and start turning on some more win lights.

"Vegas is a crazy town and a crazy race and I'm excited to get out there and see all the fans."

The annual spring NHRA Fanfest returns to the "Brooklyn Bridge" in front of the New York New York Hotel & Casino on Thursday on the Las Vegas Strip when the event kicks off the NHRA Nationals.

Matt will join Don Schumacher Racing drivers Tony Schumacher, Antron Brown, Spencer Massey, Jack Beckman, Ron Capps and Tommy Johnson Jr. and other stars of the Mello Yello Series from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. for a free autograph session.

Music, games, ticket giveaways and fun begins at 5 p.m.

Another feature of Fanfest will be DSR's New York New York Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car on display.

New York New York is the official Las Vegas hotel and casino for DSR.

MATT HAGAN: Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T
Pts Events Titles Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2014 8th 3 0 1 0 0 2 0 0 3-3
CAREER 122 10 15 16 37 40 15 4 153-109
Best Time, Speed: 3.986 sec. (7-26-2013, Sonoma, Calif.); 322.27 mph (9-17-11, Charlotte 2)

Last event (March 14-16, Gainesville, Fla.): Qualified No. 12; lost in first round to Courtney Force
A year ago at Las Vegas 1: Qualified No. 6; lost in semifinals to Courtney Force
Last fall at Las Vegas 2: Qualified No. 5; lost in first round to Alexis DeJoria
Career at Las Vegas 1: Wins 0; Runner-ups 1 (2009); Poles 0
Career at Las Vegas: Wins 0; Runner-ups 2 (2010, 2009); Poles 1 (2009)

(Through Gainesville, third of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
driver (wins), points
1. John Force (1), 316
2. Robert Hight (1), 273
3. Alexis DeJoria (1), 187
3. Del Worsham (0), 187
5. Bob Tasca III (0), 184
6. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (0), 168
7. RON CAPPS (0), 164
8. MATT HAGAN (0), 161
9. JACK BECKMAN (0), 151
10. Courtney Force (0), 146

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