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Aug 12, 2014 - 06:41 PM
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2014 NHRA: Matt Hagan NHRA Nationals at Brainerd Event Preview
Posted by: newsla on Aug 12, 2014 - 06:39 PM
2014 NHRA: Matt Hagan NHRA Nationals at Brainerd Event Preview

Matt Hagan is in the middle of a steady march to the top half of NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car standings.

Just two months ago, Matt and the Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots team were fighting to stay in the top-10. Fast forward five NHRA events later, and they are within reach of holding a spot in the top-three.


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Heading into this weekend's 33rd annual NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, Matt is ranked seventh but only two rounds of racing (worth 20 points per round win) behind Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps who is third.

"You know, it's no secret that we didn't start out the season very well," Matt said. "We runnered-up the first race and then we just got in a slump and it was a fight to get where we are at in points.

"But when you look at it, I'm two rounds out of third. It's a battle. The Funny Car competition is insane this year. Third through seventh is separated by 40 points. That's really something.

"It just shows that every round counts out here. We could have a good race and be third or we could have a bad race and lose some ground. The closer we can be to that No. 1 spot when they reset the points, the closer we are to getting that championship."

Only two races remain in the NHRA "regular season" before the points are reset and only the top-10 will be eligible to win the championship in the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs.

"We had a good event at Brainerd last year. Qualified second and was runner-up so Dickie (Venables) has some good data to go off. But we have to take it one run at time and stay focused.

"I'm excited," Matt said. "I'm just itching to get back in this Mopar race car. I can't wait."

MATT HAGAN, Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T
Last event Seattle (Aug. 3): Qualified No. 3; lost in semifinals to Gary Densham
A year ago at Brainerd: Qualified No. 2; lost in championship round to Ron Capps
Career at Brainerd: Wins 0; Runner-ups 1 (2013); Poles 1 (2011)
Pts Events Titles Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2014 7th 16 1 1 4 4 6 0 0 19-15
CAREER 136 11 15 20 41 45 15 4 169-121
Best Time, Speed: 3.986 sec. (7-26-2013, Sonoma, Calif.); 322.27 mph (9-17-11, Charlotte 2)

(Official after 16 of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS; *clinched spot in Countdown to the Championship)
driver (wins) points behind
1. *Robert Hight (5) 1,271 ----
2. *John Force (3) 1,224 -47
3. RON CAPPS (1) 989 -282
4. Courtney Force (2) 980 -291
5. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 975 -296
6. Alexis DeJoria (2) 961 -310
7. MATT HAGAN (1) 949 -322
8. Cruz Pedregon (1) 894 -377
9. Del Worsham 848 -423
10. Tim Wilkerson 815 -456
11. JACK BECKMAN 785 -486

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