2014 NHRA: Matt Hagan SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals Event Report: First Round
There are many highs and lows in the roller coaster ride that is the Mello Yello NHRA Drag Racing Series.
Matt Hagan, the 2011 NHRA Funny Car champion who won five titles last year and has 10 in his six-year career at Don Schumacher Racing, has experienced the highest of highs.
But he's also seen the lows the sport provides. Going winless in 2012 and missing Countdown to the Championship layoff are examples.
Now the Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots team is stuck in a low with three consecutive first-round losses.
Not since NHRA events near Chicago, Norwalk, Ohio, and near Denver in the 2012 season has Hagan experienced three first-round losses in a row.
But he and crew chief Dickie Venables don't see this streak lasting any longer. They have answers and know the changes they need to make.
"With our run last night in qualifying, smoking the tires, Dickie got to see some changes that he wanted to make for race day," Matt said. "He made some changes this morning and it just didn't respond to what he was wanting it to do.
"We're going to stay and test tomorrow and make a few laps and sort everything out. We know what's going on with the race car, it's not like it's something that hasn't shown its face yet. We'll make some more adjustments, fine tune it some more and make some more laps."
The next NHRA Mello Yello event takes place near Charlotte, a track that Matt has had plenty of success at in his young career. He is the defending Four-Wide event winner, won the title at zMAX Dragway in the 2011 fall event and is where he produced the first sub-four-second run in Funny Car history.
"We will get it figured out. Charlotte is good to us. We'll be ready to come out swinging there."
Event Winner: Alexis DeJoria (Kalitta Racing)
No. 1 Qualifier: Courtney Force (John Force Racing), 4.006
MATT HAGAN, Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T
Qualifying Position: No. 5
First round : Alexis DeJoria (4.071 sec., 305.08 mph) def. HAGAN (4.998, 185.36)
FRIDAY: 4.131 sec., 306.74 mph, (Session 1); 4.063 sec., 317.05 mph, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 4.046, 318.17 MPH (Session 3); 6.744, 97.21 (Session 4)
NHRA MELLO YELLO POINTS STANDINGS
(Unofficial, after Las Vegas, 4th or 24 events)
driver (wins), points
1. Robert Hight (1), 367
2. John Force (1), 358
3. Alexis DeJoria (1), 299
4. RON CAPPS (0), 241
5. Del Worsham (0), 224
6. Courtney Force (0), 207
7. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (0), 205
8. MATT HAGAN (0), 204
9. JACK BECKMAN (0), 202
10. Bob Tasca III (0), 194