BROWNSBURG, Ind. (March 14, 2017) - Only two Funny Car drivers have ever started the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series with two consecutive wins. NHRA great Don "The Snake" Prudhomme and Don Schumacher Racing's Matt Hagan.
And they've both done it twice.
Hagan and the Mopar Express Lane team led by crew chief Dickie Venables and assistant Michael Knudsen are 8-0 in round wins this season with event titles at the season opener in Pomona, Calif., and near Phoenix two weeks ago. It's a feat they also accomplished 2015.
"It's a pretty cool deal to start the season off like this," said Hagan. "We got us a hot rod right now. The car is strong, Dickie is putting a good car underneath me. I'm just feeling it right now, we all are. The car is just going down the racetrack every lap.
"It's a great feeling to crawl in the car with the confidence that you're going to run strong. I'm just super, super proud of Dickie, Michael and this group of Mopar guys that they've put around me."
But to continue that streak, two-time Funny Car champion Hagan will have to do something he's never done before - win the prestigious Gatornationals this weekend at Gainesville Raceway in Gainesville, Fla. He certainly doesn't want to follow the 2015 pattern: after opening with two titles the team lost in the first round at Gainesville.
The East Coast season opener is a special race for many NHRA competitors, including Hagan.
"Hopefully we can carry some of it into the Gators," said Hagan, whose Mopar team powered by Pennzoil this year has matched the world records it set a year ago with a run of 3.822 seconds at 335.57 mph at Pomona in the opener.
"The Gators is one of the big ones. You want to win that one like you want to win Indy. It's significant. It stands out on the schedule.
"We want to go out here and win all of them but the competition is so tough out here that it's just a matter of time before somebody puts us on the trailer. That's why this sport is so humbling.
"We're certainly going to try and win them all and we have a car and a team that's capable of it and that's what keeps us so motivated each week out here. We know we can win. I can't wait to get to Gainesville and see what Dickie and this team can do."
MATT HAGAN: Mopar Express Lane 2017 Dodge Charger R/T - two-event winning streak
Last event (Feb. 24-26 at Phoenix): Qualified No. 1, won in championship round over DSR's Ron Capps
2016 at Gainesville: Qualified No. 6, lost in second round to Robert Hight
Career at Gainesville: Wins 0; Runner-ups 0; Poles 2 (2010-11)
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2017 1st 2 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 8-0
2016 3rd 24 4 2 5 7 5 5 0 40-20
CAREER 194 24 20 28 62 56 28 4 273-166
Best Time, Speed: 3.822 sec.-world record (2016, Brainerd/2017, Pomona 1); 335.57 mph-world record (2016, Topeka/2017, Pomona 1)
2017 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES STANDINGS
(Official after Phoenix; 2 of 24 events; wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. MATT HAGAN (2) 240 -----
2. RON CAPPS 178 -62
3. Courtney Force 140 -100
4. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. 134 -106
5. John Force 112 -128
6. J.R. Todd 105 -135
7. Jim Campbell 102 -138
8. JACK BECKMAN 90 -150
8. Tim Wilkerson 90 -150
10. Robert Hight 88 -152
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