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Apr 13, 2014 - 06:42 AM
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2014 NHRA: Matt Hagan NHRA Four-Wide Nationals Qualifying Report: No. 7
Posted by: newsla on Apr 13, 2014 - 06:40 AM
2014 NHRA: Matt Hagan NHRA Four-Wide Nationals Qualifying Report: No. 7

The Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots team has an extra crew member this weekend at the 5th annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals.


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Nolan Lopez, a seventh-grader from Sanford, N.C., befriended Matt Hagan and the team at the Four-Wide event at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte Motor Speedway last year when they invited him to ride in the tow vehicle.

Hagan went on to win the event and ever since the team has considered Nolan their lucky charm.

The Mopar team went on to win five NHRA Mello Yello events in the 2013 season and 12-year-old Nolan was there for three of them - Charlotte, Chicago and the season finale in Pomona.

"The kid is a rock star," Matt said. "He's like having a leprechaun around, he's super lucky. It's just one of those deals, we love having him."

The bond between the Mopar team and Nolan, his father Danny, a member of the U.S. Army, and his mother Lora got deeper last fall when Nolan surprised each crew member with a coin and a flag flown overseas.

"His father is in the military and serves our country," Matt said. "It's just a pleasure to have him and his whole family out here with us. We take care of him and he takes care of us."

Nolan was surprised when he arrived at the facility near Charlotte and saw his name on the side of Hagan's 10,000-horsepower Dodge Charger R/T but nothing compares to the friendship he has formed with the team.

"It's cool," the Western Harnett Middle School student said. "Hanging out with the team and riding in the tow vehicle is my favorite."

If his infectious smile could get any bigger it did on Saturday afternoon when the team gave him a Wally trophy from their zMAX win last year.

"It's a great relationship and it's something I hope he'll remember for the rest of his life," Matt said. "Our whole crew has adopted him and we've all formed a special bond with him and his family. It's just a cool feeling to know that you have that kind of support."

Nolan will be on site for Sunday's Four-Wide eliminates where Hagan qualified No. 7. He will race Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman, Robert Hight and Tony Pedregon in the opening round on Sunday.

"We're all hoping Nolan's lucky streak continues for us but even if it doesn't it's just an honor to have him and his family out here with us. He means a lot to us."

No. 1 Qualifier: Ron Capps (Don Schumacher Racing) 4.059, 314.24 mph

MATT HAGAN, Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 7
First round opponents: Jack Beckman, Robert Hight, Tony Pedregon
FRIDAY: 4.803 sec., 170.02 mph, (Session 1); 4.088, 210.91, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 10.729, 77.45, (Session 3); 4.181, 303.98, (Session 4)

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