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Matt Hagan NHRA Sonoma Nationals Event Recap: Second Round

Hagan, Mopar Express Lane team drop close second-round race to DSR teammate, head to final Western Swing stop with points lead

SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 2, 2015) – Matt Hagan has had his share of close drag races in his NHRA Funny Car career and more were added to the list on Sunday in the Sonoma Nationals.After winning a close race by the sleek nose of his 2015 Dodge Charger R/T over Paul Lee in the opening round of eliminations at Sonoma Raceway, Matt and the Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots team faced Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. in the second round.

Johnson’s elapsed time of 4.126 seconds just edged Matt’s 4.139-second lap for the win under sunny Sonoma skies.

“As it gets hotter you have to pull these things back a little bit and it was just a good drag race,” Matt said. “I didn’t see him until the last 200 feet of the racetrack and once the other car pokes the nose out in front, it’s hard to get it back.

“We learned and we’re moving on to Seattle. We’ve won there before and we have some good data to go off. I feel confident we can keep the ball rolling. Yes, we want to finish the (Western) swing on a high note, but they all count the same.”

Matt and his reigning world championship team led by crew chief Dickie Venables and assistant Michael Knudsen are already focused on the Countdown to the Championship, a six-race playoff format where the points will be reset in September beginning at the event near Charlotte. The No. 1 seed will carry a 30-point lead into the first playoff event.

hagan“Earlier this year I joked with Dickie (Venables) that winning the first couple races like we did really don’t matter that much, but they really do,” Matt said. “We really want to position ourselves in that No. 1 spot for the Countdown. We know what it’s like to not have those 30 points and have to work your way back up to win the thing. That cushion is huge.

“We have a great car and team. We learn new things each weekend with this new combination and hopefully we can turn on a lot more win lights for Mopar and Rocky pretty soon. Whenever you do beat your teammates you feel like you’ve done a little better job. All these DSR teams are on the same clutch dynos, the same blower dynos, we run all the same parts and pieces and we have a great Dodge Charger body. When you’re able to win, you do feel like you’ve done a better job.

“You take it in stride and there’s not a doubt in my mind this car will be back in the winner’s circle really soon.”

The NHRA Mello Yello series heads to the final stop on the Western Swing next weekend near Seattle.

Event Winner: Jack Beckman (Don Schumacher Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: Beckman, 3.921 sec.-national record, 323.43 mph

MATT HAGAN, Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots 2015 Dodge Charger R/T
Qualifying position: No. 2
First round opponent: Paul Lee
FRIDAY: 4.035 sec., 317.34 mph, (Session 1); 3.967, 325.77-track record, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 4.657, 179.64, (Session 3); did not run, mechanical problem (Session 4)

(Unofficial after Sonoma; 15 of 24 races; DSR drivers in CAPS)
DRIVER (WINS)                             POINTS BEHIND
1. MATT HAGAN (4)                       1,142        —–
2. JACK BECKMAN (5)                   1,065         -77
3. John Force (2)                               948         -194
4. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1)           947         -195
5. RON CAPPS (2)                            935         -207
6. Del Worsham                                 902         -240
7. Cruz Pedregon                               855         -287
8. Tim Wilkerson (1)                           815         -327
9. Robert Hight                                   784         -358
10. Alexis DeJoria                              765          -377

About the Mopar Brand

Mopar (a simple contraction of the words Motor and PARts) was trademarked in 1937 with the launch of an antifreeze product but truly made its mark in the 1960s during the muscle-car era. From Mopar Performance Parts to enhance speed and handling for both road and racing use, the brand soon expanded to include technical service and customer support.


Today, Mopar is FCA’s service, parts and customer-care brand and distributes more than 500,000 parts and accessories in more than 130 markets, integrating service, parts and customer-care operations in order to enhance dealer and customer support worldwide. Mopar is the source for genuine parts and accessories for FCA brands.


Mopar parts are unique in that they are engineered with the same teams that create factory-authorized vehicle specifications for FCA vehicles – a direct connection that no other aftermarket parts company can provide. A complete list of Mopar accessories and performance parts is available


About Rocky Brands

Rocky Brands, Inc. is a leading designer, manufacturer and marketer of premium quality footwear  and apparel marketed under a portfolio of well recognized brand names including Rocky®, Georgia Boot®, Durango®, Lehigh® and the licensed brand Michelin® Footwear. Rocky Brands is proud to supply footwear to the United States military. For more information, visit

About Don Schumacher Racing
Don Schumacher Racing, headquartered in Brownsburg, Ind., fields seven professional NHRA teams. In Top Fuel, the U.S. Army dragster driven by eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher, the 2012 NHRA Top Fuel world champion Matco Tools dragster driven by Antron Brown and the Red Fuel Powered by Schumacher dragster driven by Spencer Massey; and in Funny Car, 2011 and 2014 world champion Matt Hagan in the Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots 2015 Dodge Charger R/T, 2012 NHRA world champion Jack Beckman in the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge, the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge of Ron Capps and the Make-A-Wish Dodge driven by Tommy Johnson Jr.
DSR has won 260 NHRA national event titles and 13 world championships.
Follow Don Schumacher Racing at, on Twitter at @shoeracing and