BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Nov. 7, 2017) - Matt Hagan is headed to one of his best tracks to close out the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Series season, and he's headed there with some momentum.
The Mopar Express Lane team led by crew chief Dickie Venables with assistant Michael Knudsen scored the event title at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway two weeks to send the team to the NHRA Finals on a winning streak.
The six-race Countdown to the Championship didn't exactly pan out how the team had hoped, but another win this weekend would be its fifth event title of the season.
"We rebounded at Las Vegas, got things in order and got the win," said the two-time Funny Car world champion. "We won't be going after the championship but we've had so much success there that maybe we can finish the season the way we started."
The Mopar team Powered by Pennzoil started the season with back-to-back wins at Pomona and Phoenix. With four event titles in five final round appearances, the team is ranked fifth in Funny Car standings with an opportunity to move up this weekend at the NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
"(Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron) Capps and (Robert) Hight really ran away with those top two spots, but third is very much within reach for us and that would mean a lot to us to be top-three. We've had a good season, had some struggles here and there but to finish strong would really mean a lot to this team."
This weekend's NHRA Finals features a unique points system where each round win is worth 30 points instead of the standard 20.
"Dickie has been working really hard to get this car turned around he's proven what I've been saying. He has worked non-stop to give us a strong running race car and that's what we have to finish out the season. I can't say enough about how good of a job he does.
"We have a car that can go out and win any weekend and that's what we're going to do this weekend to end the season on a high note."
MATT HAGAN, Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: Dickie Venables; Assistant: Michael Knudsen
Last event, Oct. 29, Las Vegas: Qualified No. 4, won in championship round over Courtney Force
A year ago at Pomona 2: Qualified No. 7, lost in first round to Jeff Arend
In February at Pomona 1: Qualified No. 1, won in championship round over Ron Capps
Career at Pomona 2: Wins 3 (2011, 2013, 2014), Runner-ups 0, Poles 1 (2011)
Career at Pomona: Wins 5 (2011, 2013-15, 2017), Runner-ups 2 (2011, 2014), Poles 2 (2011, 2017)
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2017 5th 23 4 1 7 5 6 4 0 38-19
CAREER 215 26 23 35 67 62 30 4 303-185
Career best time, speed: 3.799 (2017, Indianapolis); 338.85 mph (2017, Topeka)
COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
(Official standings through Las Vegas 2; 23rd of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. Robert Hight (4) 2548 ----
2. RON CAPPS (8) 2533 -15
3. Courtney Force 2423 -125
4. JACK BECKMAN (2) 2396 -152
5. MATT HAGAN (4) 2387 -161
x-6. John Force (1) 2306 -242
x-7. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 2276 -272
x-8. Tim Wilkerson 2237 -311
x-9. J.R. Todd (2) 2233 -315
x-10. Cruz Pedregon 2163 -345
x=eliminated from championship contention