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Jun 16, 2014 - 06:24 AM
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2014 NHRA: Matt Hagan NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals Event Recap: Semifinal
Posted by: newsla on Jun 16, 2014 - 06:24 AM
2014 NHRA: Matt Hagan NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals Event Recap: Semifinal

The NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals marked a step in the right direction for Matt Hagan and the Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots team.


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After qualifying No. 8 for Sunday's eliminations at Bristol Dragway, Matt and company reached the semifinals for the third time in 10 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events this season.

And he did it in front of his family and friends who made the short drive from Hagan's hometown of Christiansburg, Va.

"I really would've loved to win here, it's Father's Day and with my family and friends here," Matt said. "But we put on a heck of a show here and I'm happy with it."

The team led by Dickie Venables won an opening-round match against Chad Head with a 4.166-second effort before Hagan used his lightning-quick reaction time (.046) to take the holeshot win over No. 1 qualifier Del Worsham.

Then Hagan was paired against Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. in the semifinals where the duo put on a stellar drag race on a 130-degree Bristol Dragway track with air temperatures pushing 90 degrees. It was the hottest track temperatures teams have faced in 2014.

The Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T came up just short with a 4.207-second run to 4.201-second lap by Johnson, who won the event title.

"It was just a real productive weekend for this team," Matt said. "We're going rounds now, we needed that. Obviously we've been struggling a little bit this year but it really does seem like it's coming around for us. It's a huge confidence boost with three more races in a row. It's huge to start off well like we did.

"We'll go to Epping and try to turn on some more win lights and get the job done there."

Event Winner: Tommy Johnson Jr. (Don Schumacher Racing)
No. 1 Qualifier: Del Worsham (Kalitta Motorsports), 3.992 sec.*, 319.45 mph* (*track records)

MATT HAGAN, Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T
Qualifying Position: No. 8
First round: HAGAN (4.166, 300.00) def. Chad Head (5.498, 143.90)
Second round: HAGAN (4.216, 287.66) def. Del Worsham (4.209, 299.53)
Semifinals: Tommy Johnson Jr. (4.201, 299.46) def. HAGAN (4.207, 293.54)
FRIDAY: 4.180 sec., 303.70 mph (Session 1); 4.111, 308.99, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 4.176, 295.92 (Session 3); 4.831, 167.18 (Session 4)

(Unofficial through 10 of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
driver (wins) points behind
1. Robert Hight (4) 905 ----
2. John Force (1) 640 -265
3. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. 627 -278
4. Alexis DeJoria (2) 619 -286
5. Del Worsham 593 -312
6. Courtney Force (1) 581 -324
7. RON CAPPS 571 -334
8. Cruz Pedregon (1) 538 -367
9. Tim Wilkerson 533 -372
10. MATT HAGAN 527 -378
11. JACK BECKMAN 512 -383

DSR owner Don Schumacher honored at Bristol
Don Schumacher, who won many Funny Car titles at Bristol Dragway in the early 1970s, was honored Sunday as the 2014 Legend of Thunder Valley during pre-race ceremonies before the start of the Thunder Valley Nationals at the famed Tennessee track.

Schumacher, one of the early Funny Car drivers and a longtime safety innovator in drag racing, won several International Hot Rod Association titles at Bristol including three of five in 1971. He also owns five NHRA national event titles as a driver/owner and since starting Don Schumacher Racing in 1998 he has won 11 NHRA world championships and 220 NHRA event titles.

The Chicago native, who will be 70 in November, fielded seven professional teams this weekend at Bristol. He was inducted in May 2013 into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame at Talladega, Ala., with NASCAR stalwarts Rusty Wallace, Rick Hendrick and Dale Inman. He was enshrined in the Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 2007.

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