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2014 NHRA: Matt Hagan Route 66 NHRA Nationals Event Preview
Posted by: newsla on Jun 25, 2014 - 06:53 AM
2014 NHRA: Matt Hagan Route 66 NHRA Nationals Event Preview

The next opportunity for Matt Hagan to turn on win lights in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series can't come soon enough for the Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots team.


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Hagan, the 2011 NHRA Funny Car champion, and the Mopar team have had a rough first 11 events in the 2014 season. The team, led by crew chief Dickie Venables, has suffered six first-round losses and has a round win-loss record of 9-11.

"Things just really haven't fallen our way so far this year," Matt said. "We've lost a few close races here and there and that makes a difference. The competition is tough, there's no doubt about that, but that's not an excuse.

"This team is as good or better than anyone out here and I wouldn't trade any of them. Dickie and each one of these guys know what they're doing and we have a good car, a good tune-up. We just need a little luck here and there."

The Mopar team would enjoy a lucky break at this weekend's NHRA Route 66 Nationals at Joliet, Ill., where Matt has earned two of his 10 event titles.

"We're going into our third consecutive race and we need to get some momentum going before we head west for the Western Swing. We can do it, I know we can. There's no doubt about that.

"This Joliet event can be tough. It can be hot, it can be muggy but we run our qualifying sessions at night and that makes a huge difference. You don't really get runs in the conditions that we'll see there on race day but we know it'll be hot.

"We have some good data from Bristol where it was hot, and Dickie did a really good job at this race so I have all the confidence in the world that we'll make a good lap in the cooler weather for qualifying, get qualified well and then throw our hot weather tune-up in it and get after it on race day.

"We have to fight to stay in the top 10 in points and stay in the Countdown."

Only six NHRA Mello Yello events remain before the points are reset at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis and the top 10 begin the fight for the championship. The Mopar Express Lane team ranks tenth heading into the Route 66 Nationals.

MATT HAGAN, Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T
Last event Epping, N.H. (June 29): Qualified No. 8; lost in first round to John Force
A year ago at Chicago: Qualified No. 6; defeated John Force in championship round
Career at Chicago: Wins 2 (2013, 2010); Runner-ups 0; Poles 0

Pts Events Titles Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2014 10th 11 0 1 2 2 6 0 0 9-11
CAREER 131 10 15 18 39 44 15 4 159-117
Best Time, Speed: 3.986 sec. (7-26-2013, Sonoma, Calif.); 322.27 mph (9-17-11, Charlotte 2)

(Official after 11 of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
driver (wins) points behind
1. Robert Hight (4) 970 ----
2. Alexis DeJoria (2) 716 -254
3. John Force (1) 713 -257
4. RON CAPPS (1) 683 -287
5. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 682 -288
6. Courtney Force (1) 658 -312
7. Del Worsham 645 -325
8. Cruz Pedregon (1) 599 -371
9. Tim Wilkerson 569 -401
10. MATT HAGAN 564 -406
11. JACK BECKMAN 547 -423

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