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Matt Hagan Forging Ahead After First Round Loss In Seattle

Flav-R-Pac NHRA Northwest Nationals witnessed a tough weekend for Matt Hagan, driver of the Dodge Direct Connection Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car. Despite a challenging first-round loss, Hagan remains determined to come back stronger.

In Friday’s round one of qualifying, Hagan showcased his skills, earning a No. 7 provisional qualifying position with a 4.015 ET at 318.02 mph pass. However, Saturday’s round two of qualifying didn’t go as planned, and he fell to the No. 9 provisional qualifying position after posting a 6.205 ET at 110.76 mph. To add to the intensity, Q2 was part of the NHRA’s Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge, where Hagan faced off against Ron Capps. Although Capps emerged victorious with a 3.961 ET at 322.81 mph run, Hagan remained unfazed.

Hagan’s determination was evident as he secured the No. 9 qualifying position based on Friday’s Q1 run. In Saturday’s Q3, he roared down the strip with a 4.027 ET at 321.88 mph, setting the stage for Sunday’s eliminations.

However, Sunday’s Round 1 presented a tough matchup against Tim Wilkerson. Hagan pushed hard but faced a 5.068 ET at 163.63 mph, while Wilkerson delivered an impressive 3.928 ET at 324.83 mph, sending Hagan back to the pits earlier than he’d hoped.

But even in the face of adversity, Hagan remains a force to be reckoned with in the Funny Car championship standings, currently leading by 17 points ahead of Ron Capps. This season, he participated in his fourth Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge after previous appearances in the NHRA Arizona Nationals, the Route 66 NHRA Nationals, and the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals.

Reflecting on the challenging weekend, Hagan shared, “There are some weekends where things are just off and this was one of them. It makes you appreciate when things go well. I hate that we didn’t have a great weekend for Dodge between Leah [Pruett] and myself. It was a tricky race track out there. One thing I do know is that I have one of the smartest crew chiefs out there in Dickie Venables. He’ll figure out whatever is wrong and it won’t be long before we’re back on top having a good run at it. We usually do pretty well in Seattle, so it was surprising a little bit. 

Hagan is already looking ahead to the next race at Sonoma, where Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage will grace his car. “We’re excited about that, and they’re a great group of people. We want to have a good showing for them,” Hagan said with enthusiasm. The team is planning to arrive early in town for some pre-race press in Sacramento, an event Hagan is eagerly anticipating.

While the Flav-R-Pac NHRA Northwest Nationals didn’t go as planned for Hagan, his passion and dedication to the sport are evident, making him a true rock star in the world of drag racing. As fans, we can’t wait to see him back on top, conquering the strip with his signature speed and skill.

This story was originally published on July 24, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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