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Jul 23, 2014 - 06:24 AM
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2014 NHRA: Matt Hagan NHRA Sonoma Nationals Event Preview
Posted by: newsla on Jul 23, 2014 - 06:19 AM
2014 NHRA: Matt Hagan NHRA Sonoma Nationals Event Preview

After the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series visited arguably its toughest facility on the 24-event tour last week near Denver, things will get back to normal this weekend at the 27th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals in Sonoma, Calif.


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From Bandimere Speedway that's situated roughly 5,860 feet above sea-level to Northern California's Sonoma Raceway that's just 15 feet above sea level, the cars and stars of the NHRA will return to standard racing conditions.

And that makes the driver of the Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T quite happy.

"Man, that mountain was tough," Matt said. "Tough on everybody. The cars, the crew chiefs, the guys that work on these things and even the drivers. The cars need oxygen to run and there just wasn't much of it up on that mountain and it affected everybody. I can't wait to get on track at Sonoma."

Last year at Sonoma Raceway, crew chief Dickie Venables had the fastest car on property qualifying No.1 with Matt's career best time of 3.986-seconds but was defeated in the opening round of championship eliminations. That was the 10th three-second Funny Car elapsed time.

"Man, we had such a great car there last year but we didn't get the job done on Sunday and I've been ready to go back ever since. I feel like we lost a big opportunity to win there last year and I want to get a win there."

A win would propel Matt and the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T team into the top-five in points with four races remaining until the points are reset for the Countdown to the Championship following the U.S. Nationals near Indianapolis.

"We're just barely four rounds out of fourth place in standings and that's huge," he said. "We didn't have a great start to the season but with a little bit of consistency and luck I think we can get into the top-5 before Indy.

"I'm just real proud of this team. It's no secret that we struggled early this year and we're really coming around here lately. It took a lot of work by Dickie and the guys and I have all the confidence in the world in them."

MATT HAGAN: Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T
Last event Denver (July 20): Qualified No. 8; lost in quarterfinals to John Force
A year ago at Sonoma: Qualified No. 1; lost in first round to Alexis DeJoria
Career at Sonoma: Wins 0; Runner-ups 1 (2012); Poles 2 (2013, 2009)

Pts Events Titles Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2014 7th 14 1 1 2 4 6 0 0 15-13
CAREER 134 11 15 18 41 45 15 4 165-119
Best Time, Speed: 3.986 sec. (7-26-2013, Sonoma, Calif.); 322.27 mph (9-17-11, Charlotte 2)

(Official after 14 of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
driver (wins) pts behind
1. Robert Hight (5) 1,179 ----
2. John Force (2) 998 -181
3. RON CAPPS (1) 921 -258
4. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 882 -297
5. Courtney Force (1) 817 -362
6. Alexis DeJoria (2) 811 -368
7. MATT HAGAN (1) 794 -385
8. Cruz Pedregon (1) 781 -398
9. Del Worsham 780 -399
10. Tim Wilkerson 711 -468
11. JACK BECKMAN 708 -471

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