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Aug 17, 2014 - 06:56 AM
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2014 NHRA: Matt Hagan NHRA Nationals At Brainerd Qualifying Report: No 3
Posted by: newsla on Aug 17, 2014 - 06:53 AM
2014 NHRA: Matt Hagan NHRA Nationals At Brainerd Qualifying Report: No 3

Matt Hagan seems at ease this weekend at Brainerd International Raceway.

The driver of the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T may be calmly relaxed after a few days in the serenity of central Minnesota, but more likely Hagan has a quiet confidence that his team is reaching championship-form at the right time of the year. Hagan will secure one of the 10 coveted positions in the Countdown for the Championship by advancing to the second round of eliminations on Sunday at Brainerd.


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Hagan qualified his Mopar-backed flopper in the No. 3 position on Saturday afternoon during the 33rd annual NHRA Nationals, but he had to wait to move up from sixth to third in the 16-car order. Mother Nature did the Funny Car teams a favor and an 80-minute rain delay let the crew chiefs lick their chops to throw more horsepower at the Hemi engines for their last attempt during qualifying.

Hagan's veteran champion tuner Dickie Venables used that Mopar power to push Hagan to his best lap of the weekend at 4.068 at 311.99 as he will start third for the second straight race.

"Dickie (Venables) and Knute (assistant crew chief Mike Knudsen) are doing a great job," Hagan said after the team's solid qualifying performance at Brainerd. "We're peaking at the right time and I just have a ton of confidence in my guys. I'm really excited for race day here in Brainerd and to keep that momentum going into Indy and the Countdown."

Hagan, the 2011 NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car world champion, knows the importance of having a strong tune-up at the right time of the year. He enters the penultimate race in NHRA's regular season ranked seventh, but only 40 points, or two rounds of racing, behind his DSR teammate Ron Capps. With solid performances at Brainerd on Sunday and the prestigious U.S. Nationals in two weeks, the Mopar team could be starting the six-race playoff from the No. 3 spot and sit just 40 points behind the points-leader.

"I think we're making the boss man happy every lap and hopefully we can go some rounds for him tomorrow and move up a spot or two in the Countdown (to the Championship) standings," Hagan said.

No. 1 Qualifier: John Force (John Force Racing), 4.060 sec., 315.27 mph

MATT HAGAN, Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T
Qualifying Position: No. 3
First round opponent: Chad Head (No. 14)

FRIDAY: 4.438 sec., 207.11 mph (Session 1), 4.138, 308.21 (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 4.165, 281.01 (Session 3), 4.068, 311.99 (Session 4)

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