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Jul 29, 2014 - 05:42 PM
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2014 NHRA: Matt Hagan NHRA Northwest Nationals Event Preview
Posted by: newsla on Jul 29, 2014 - 05:39 PM
2014 NHRA: Matt Hagan NHRA Northwest Nationals Event Preview

Matt Hagan couldn't be farther from home on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series circuit than he will be when he arrives at Pacific Raceways at Kent, Wash., for this week's Northwest NHRA Nationals.


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The 2,800-mile gap from Kent to his home at Christiansburg, Va., might seem even farther as the annual NHRA "Western Swing" comes to a close this weekend after three races in three weekends that included stops near Denver and San Francisco.

Matt and his Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodger Charger R/T team led by Dickie Venables are ready for a weekend off before getting back on the trail again to race at Brainerd, Minn., in two weeks.

It's been a grinding season for Matt and his team but advancing to the semifinals Sunday at Sonoma Raceway was a solid performance that enabled them to maintain their hold on seventh place in the Mello Yello top-10.

Matt and other Mello Yello Series drivers approach the most critical three-race stretch of the first 18 races of the year.

When the top-10 in points are finalized upon conclusion of the Mello Yello regular season, which includes this weekend's race near Seattle and events at Brainerd, Minn., and near Indianapolis, the points totals will be reset for those 10 Funny Car drivers eligible to win the season title in the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff that ends the season.

Matt's No. 7 position is a little precarious; while he is only 89 points out of third place, he also is only 107 points from dropping out of the top-10.

"We sure love being in seventh but a lot can happen in these next three races," said Matt, who won the 2011 Funny Car world championship. "You can go from hero to zero in a hurry out here because the competition is so fierce.

"I know Dickie and our Mopar/Rocky guys are going to give me a great Dodge this weekend and I'll do my job the best I can. But there are no guarantees in drag racing and after missing the Countdown in 2012 that's a feeling we sure don't want to feel again."

A year ago, Matt qualified fourth and went on to win the Northwest title that helped him finish the year ranked second in points.

Matt Hagan, 426 Race HEMI 50th Anniversary Tribute Dodge Charger R/T
Last event Sonoma (July 27): Qualified No. 5; lost in semifinals to Courtney Force
A year ago at Seattle: Qualified No. 4; defeated Bob Tasca III in championship round
Career at Seattle: Wins 1 (2013); Runner-ups 1 (2012); Poles 0

Pts Events Titles Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2014 7th 15 1 1 3 4 6 0 0 17-14
CAREER 135 11 15 19 41 45 15 4 167-120
Best Time, Speed: 3.986 sec. (7-26-2013, Sonoma, Calif.); 322.27 mph (9-17-11, Charlotte 2)

NHRA Mello Yello Series Points Standings
(Official after 15 of 24 events, DSR drivers in CAPS)

driver (wins) points behind
1. Robert Hight (5) 1,216 ----
2. John Force (2) 1,097 -119
3. RON CAPPS (1) 957 -259
4. Courtney Force (2) 941 -275
5. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 938 -278
6. Alexis DeJoria (2) 883 -333
7. MATT HAGAN (1) 868 -348
8. Cruz Pedregon (1) 840 -376
9. Del Worsham 816 -400
10. Tim Wilkerson 762 -454
11. JACK BECKMAN 743 -473

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