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Jul 16, 2014 - 06:13 AM
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2014 NHRA: 50th Anniversary Tribute Funny Car To Make Its On-Track Debut During
Posted by: newsla on Jul 16, 2014 - 06:11 AM
2014 NHRA: 50th Anniversary Tribute Funny Car To Make Its On-Track Debut During This Weekend's Mopar Mile-High Nationals At Bandimere Speedway

The Mopar Mile-High Nationals has always been a special race for Don Schumacher Racing and long-time partner Mopar, but this year's edition has added luster as 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the 426 HEMI engine.


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Matt Hagan unveiled the 50th Anniversary Tribute Funny Car during a media event in March at Two Tails Ranch in Williston, Fla., but Friday at Bandimere marks the first time the special anniversary theme is on track.

"It's a big race for us with the Mopar 50th anniversary scheme," Matt said. "It's an awesome body that we get to run this weekend and I couldn't be more excited. There's lots and lots of stuff going on with the annual Mopar Block Party on Thursday and it's a huge week for Mopar and a huge week for me."

The Mopar Mile-High Nationals event also provides a unique challenge for teams in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. The event lives true to its name as the picturesque facility sits more than a mile above sea level in the side of a mountain. While providing a beautiful backdrop, the facility doesn't have a lot of the oxygen 10,000-horsepower nitro-fueled machines thrive on.

"We want to turn on four win lights on Sunday but it won't come without challenges," Matt said. "Dickie (Venables) is putting a great race car underneath me but Denver is a tough race because you never know with the altitude.

"These crew chiefs have to change so much to make the cars run up there. Honestly if the car sounded like that at any sea-level track you'd shut it off because it just sounds crazy."

The event near Denver marks the start of the three-race "Western Swing" that stops in Sonoma, Calif., and near Seattle in three consecutive weekends. The Mopar team enters the Western Swing sitting eighth in Mello Yello Funny Car standings with five races remaining until the points are reset for the Countdown to the Championship that kicks off in September.

"I'm just pumped up," Matt said. "It's a big race for Mopar, a big race for us and we just want to kick off the Western Swing in a good way."

Mopar will bring Matt Hagan's special 50th anniversary of the 426 HEMI Tribute Funny Car to Red Rocks from 7-9:30 a.m. (MT) on Thursday, July 17 for a special media opportunity. The Don Schumacher Racing crew will fire up the HEMI and "Wake up Denver" with the thunder of the engine echoing against Red Rocks.

The 32nd Annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals kicks off on Thursday from 6-10 p.m. (MDT) with the free-admission 10th annual Mopar Block Party that transforms the quiet streets of downtown Golden, Colo., into a giant Mopar Nation celebration.

A highlight is a Team Mopar autograph session from 6:45-7:45 p.m. featuring NHRA stars Matt Hagan, Tony Schumacher, Jack Beckman, Tommy Johnson Jr., Spencer Massey, Allen Johnson and Jeg Coughlin Jr.

Displays of Mopar race cars and show cars will line the streets with food and souvenir vendors. Life music will be performed.

MATT HAGAN, 50th Anniversary Tribute Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
Last event Norwalk, Ohio (July 6): Qualified No. 9; lost in second round to Ron Capps
A year ago at Denver: Qualified No. 4; lost in quarterfinals to Ron Capps
Career at Denver: Wins 0; Runner-ups 1 (2011); Poles 1 (2010)

Pts Events Titles Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2014 8th 13 1 1 2 3 6 0 0 14-12
CAREER 133 11 15 18 40 45 15 4 164-118
Best Time, Speed: 3.986 sec. (7-26-2013, Sonoma, Calif.); 322.27 mph (9-17-11, Charlotte 2)

(Official after 13 of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)

driver (wins) pts behind
1. Robert Hight (4) 1,067 ----
2. John Force (2 889 -178
3. RON CAPPS (1) 846 -221
4. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 845 -222
5. Alexis DeJoria (2) 779 -288
6. Courtney Force (1) 764 -303
7. Del Worsham 748 -319
8. MATT HAGAN (1) 739 -328
9. Cruz Pedregon (1) 726 -341
10. JACK BECKMAN 655 -412

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