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Jun 10, 2014 - 04:11 PM
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2014 NHRA: Matt Hagan NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals Event Preview
Posted by: newsla on Jun 10, 2014 - 04:08 PM
2014 NHRA: Matt Hagan NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals Event Preview

Matt Hagan is hoping to find out if dreams really do come true this weekend at the 14th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, Tenn.


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On Sunday night, Matt had a dream that his Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Funny Car team qualified No. 1 and scored its first NHRA event title of the season at Bristol Dragway.

"Honestly, I know dreams don't mean anything but I dreamed that I was the No. 1 qualifier and we won the race so I would like for that dream to come true," Matt said. "I sure did wake up happy."

But a win at Bristol would mean more than just Sunday night's dream coming true for Matt. It would be a win for the dozens of family and friends who will be attending this weekend to support Matt at his hometown track two hours from his home in Christiansburg, Va.

"It would be awesome, especially with Bristol being my home track," he said. "Between there and Charlotte we have so many people come to hang out. We have a pile of people coming down this weekend. It has kind of blown me away how many people want to come to this race and support us. I'd love to win this for them."

But it won't be an easy task for Matt and the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T team led by Dickie Venables who have struggled through the last eight NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

After Matt reached the championship round in the February season-opener in Pomona, Calif., his team has only advanced past the quarterfinals once (Atlanta in May). He sits 10th in Funny Car points standings with eight events remaining before the Countdown to the Championship kicks off in September near Charlotte.

"It's just been a rough season for not only us but all of the DSR Funny Cars," he said of DSR's Funny Cars that have yet to reach the winner's circle after winning 12 of 24 event titles in 2013 including five by Matt. "I'd love to be the first one to get that win for our camp and do it right here at home in front of everyone."

The Thunder Valley Nationals is the first of four consecutive NHRA Mello Yello series events and a crucial part of the summer stretch of events.

"They're all very important," he said. "We're sitting No. 10 in the points right now and we need to make something happen here and make sure we get in the Countdown to run for the championship. We're not just running to win races, we're running to win championships. We need to make something happen here in this stretch and secure our spot in the Countdown.

"Hopefully I can wake up happy next Monday because my dream really did come true."

MATT HAGAN: Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T
Last event Englishtown, N.J. (June 1): Qualified No. 13; lost in quarterfinals to Jack Beckman
A year ago at Bristol: Qualified No. 3; lost in second round to John Force
Career at Bristol: Wins 0; Runner-ups 0; Poles 0

Pts Events Titles Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2014 10th 9 0 1 1 2 5 0 0 7-9
CAREER 129 10 15 17 39 43 15 4 157-115
Best Time, Speed: 3.986 sec. (7-26-2013, Sonoma, Calif.); 322.27 mph (9-17-11, Charlotte 2)

NHRA MELLO YELLO STANDINGS (after nine of 24 events)
driver (wins), points points behind
1. Robert Hight, (4), 847 ----
2. John Force, (1), 601 -246
3. Alexis DeJoria, (2), 564 -283
4. Del Worsham, 535 -312
5. RON CAPPS, 534 -313
6. Courtney Force (1), 527 -320
7. TOMMY JOHNSON JR., 508 -339
8. Cruz Pedregon (1), 506 -341
9. JACK BECKMAN, 480 -367
10. MATT HAGAN, 454 -393

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