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Aug 27, 2014 - 06:17 AM
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2014 NHRA: Matt Hagan NHRA U.S. Nationals Event Preview
Posted by: newsla on Aug 27, 2014 - 06:15 AM
2014 NHRA: Matt Hagan NHRA U.S. Nationals Event Preview

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series has held its biggest race of the year since 1961 on its biggest stage, Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis.


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Every driver wants to win this weekend's 60th annual U.S. Nationals, and Don Schumacher Racing Funny Car pilot Matt Hagan enters the event nicknamed the "Big Go" with great confidence stemming from a strong performance in recent NHRA events and a strong test session at the historic facility just a week ago.

"If testing relays anything to race day, then I feel pretty good about it," Matt said. "All in all, I feel like we had a great test and we learned a lot. I feel like it was one of the better tests that we've had as a team in the last few years."

Matt's 426 Race HEMI 50th Anniversary Tribute Dodge Charger R/T team clocked two 4.03-second passes over two days at the test.

"The parts that they wanted to try were working great and the car seemed to respond to everything we were doing. It was a real positive feeling walking away from that test session."

The team led by Dickie Venables hopes the positive results in testing carry over to qualifying and eliminations where they were the No. 1 qualifier last year and hold the track record. In the last five NHRA Mello Yello events, the team has qualified in the top-five four times.

"Going into race day, you never know. I feel like we have as good of a shot as anyone. Our car has been running really well lately, we've been qualifying really well. I feel like we are really starting to peak at the right time. I'm excited about Indy. We definitely want to win Indy, everybody does.

Matt's racing resume is impressive in his young career. It includes a series championship, 11 event titles and world-record runs, including the first sub-four second Funny Car pass.

But winning at Indy isn't on that list and adding that to his resume is very important to him.

"That's something I haven't done yet and, I don't know, it's just I've won a championship and a handful of races and set some records but I haven't won Indy and that's important to me. We need to make it happen.

"I haven't' done very well at Indy so it's time to turn that around."

MATT HAGAN: 426 Race HEMI 50th Anniversary Tribute Dodge Charger R/T
Last event Brainerd (Aug. 17): Qualified No. 3; lost in quarterfinals to Alexis DeJoria
A year ago at U.S. Nationals: Qualified No. 1; lost in first round to Jeff Arend
Career at U.S. Nationals: Wins 0; Runner-ups 0; Poles 2 (2013, 2010)

Pts Events Titles Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2014 7th 17 1 1 4 5 6 0 0 20-16
CAREER 137 11 15 20 42 45 15 4 170-122
Best Time, Speed: 3.986 sec. (7-26-2013, Sonoma, Calif.); 322.27 mph (9-17-11, Charlotte 2)

(Official after 17 of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS; * clinched spot in Countdown to the Championship)
driver (wins) points behind
1. *Robert Hight (5) 1,326 ------
2. *John Force (3) 1,308 -18
3.* RON CAPPS (1) 1,090 -236
4.* TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 1,052 -274
5.* Alexis DeJoria (2) 1,035 -291
6.* Courtney Force (2) 1,015 -311
7.* MATT HAGAN (1) 1,009 -317
8. Cruz Pedregon (1) 929 -397
9. Del Worsham 900 -426
10. Tim Wilkerson 848 -478
11. JACK BECKMAN 832 -494

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