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Jun 30, 2014 - 07:06 AM
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2014 NHRA: Matt Hagan Route 66 NHRA Nationals Event Recap: Winner
Posted by: newsla on Jun 30, 2014 - 07:04 AM
NHRA
2014 NHRA: Matt Hagan Route 66 NHRA Nationals Event Recap: Winner


Matt Hagan scored his first event title of the 2014 NHRA Mello Yellow Drag Racing Series and it couldn't have come at a more important time.

 

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Not only did it happen during team owner Don Schumacher's hometown event, the Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T team was in a fight to stay in the top-10 in NHRA Funny Car standings. The team led by Dickie Venables entered the Route 66 NHRA Nationals 10th in the standings and the win moved the team to eighth.

It wasn't an easy route for the Mopar team, who struggled with six first-round losses in 12 NHRA Mello Yello events after opening the season by going to the championship round.

"It's been a humbling year for us," Matt said. "Last year we came out and won five races and you think that you're going to set the world on fire the following year. We just kind of fell off. These guys have been keeping after it."

The Mopar team started the day against Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman before racing Bob Bode in the second round, DSR teammate Ron Capps in the semifinal and DSR teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. in the final round.

Matt became the first DSR driver to defeat three teammates en route to an event title, the 11th of his career.

"It makes you feel good," Hagan said of conquering his DSR counterparts. "You know they have the same parts and pieces and data that we do. Don (Schumacher) provides us with whatever we want or need. At the end of the day you can feel like you can put a little feather in your cap because we did a little better job than them. It's just great to have that feeling knowing that you put all of your teammates on the trailer."

Matt praised his team with Venables, assistant crew chief Michael Knudsen and eight crew members that wrench on the 10,000-horsepower Dodge Charger R/T.

"It goes back to the guys and Dickie. I just hung on to a fast race car today. We've had some really close drag races, me and Capps, that was a close one. It's just good to turn on four win lights again. It's not been as long as some people but it was long enough. Hopefully we can carry this momentum on but we just have to enjoy the moment right now. It does make you realize how hard these wins are to get and when it does come together you don't want the day to go away."

The Route 66 Raceway event near Chicago was the halfway point in the 24-race NHRA Mello Yello season.

"We're getting there but we still have a long way to go. The competition out here is so, so tough in Funny Car. It makes you realize how special these trophies are. You have 10 guys out there working extremely hard for one common goal and it comes together, that's just something you don't want to see end."

FUNNY CAR
Event winner: Matt Hagan (Don Schumacher Racing)
No. 1 Qualifier: Tommy Johnson Jr. (Don Schumacher Racing) 3.999 sec., 317.19 mph

MATT HAGAN, Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T
Qualifying Position: No. 10
SUNDAY
FIRST ROUND: HAGAN (4.086 sec., 313.07) def. Jack Beckman (4.397, 220.48); QUARTERFINALS: HAGAN (4.144, 308.07) def. Bob Bode (17.135, 28.35 mph); SEMIFINALS: HAGAN (4.136, 305.36) def. Ron Capps (4.135, 305.08); FINAL: HAGAN (4.098, 310.48) def. Tommy Johnson Jr. (4.147, 308.50)
QUALIFYING
FRIDAY: 4.095 sec., 311.92 mph, (Session 1); 4.223, 235.39, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 4.096., 309.27 mph, (Session 3); 4.159, 297.88, (Session 4)

NHRA MELLO YELLO STANDINGS
(Unofficial after 12 of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
FUNNY CAR
driver (wins) points behind
1. Robert Hight (4) 1,032 ----
2. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 786 -246
3. John Force (1) 769 -263
4. RON CAPPS (1) 758 -216
5. Alexis DeJoria (2) 747 -227
6. Courtney Force (1) 732 -300
7. Del Worsham 684 -348
8. MATT HAGAN (1) 681 -351
9. Cruz Pedregon (1) 651 -381
10. Tim Wilkerson 603 -429
11. JACK BECKMAN 581 -451

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