BROWNSBURG, Ind. (April 19, 2017) - This weekend's NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event near Houston is special for Mopar Express Lane Funny Car driver Matt Hagan for two reasons.
Back in 2010, Hagan scored his first event title in the NHRA SpringNationals in his second full season in the Funny Car category with Don Schumacher Racing.
Additionally, a win this weekend for Hagan with crew chief Houston native Dickie Venables would be there first together at Venables' home track.
"Dickie has put me in the winner's circle at both of my home tracks in Charlotte and Bristol and it would mean a lot to me if we could do the same for him," Hagan said. "He does such a great job, works so hard at this and is so focused. I know he wants to win them all but winning this one would be a big deal for him."
The Mopar Express Lane Powered by Pennzoil team with Venables and assistant Michael Knudsen won the first two event titles to start the 2017 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season and have a 44-point lead over DSR teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. for the top spot in the standings.
"We're four races in and we won two of them," the two-time Funny Car champion said. "I couldn't be more proud of our start and we just have to keep our heads down and stay focused and keep this momentum rolling.
"You want to win them all but this sport is so humbling. You can't win every round. But that doesn't mean we don't want to. This team is hungry for success. Hopefully we can pull down a win this weekend for all the folks at Mopar, Pennzoil and Sandvik Coromant."
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series took two weekends off before this returning to the circuit near Houston, the first of three in a row where the series will travel to Charlotte and Atlanta before taking a break.
"First three in a row of the year and that means a lot of work for these guys," he said. "I know they've been back at the shop getting ready to go and we're really looking forward to this three race swing."
MATT HAGAN, Mopar Express Lane 2017 Dodge Charger R/T - 2X WINNER IN 2017, POINTS LEADER
Last event (March 31-April 2): Qualified No. 2, lost in quarterfinals to John Force
A year ago at Houston: Qualified No. 9, lost in second round to Tim Wilkerson
Career at Houston: Wins 1 (2010); Runner-ups 0; Poles 0
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2017 1st 4 2 0 1 1 0 1 0 11-2
CAREER 196 24 20 29 63 56 27 4 276-168
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 FUNNY CAR STANDINGS
1. MATT HAGAN (2) 368 -----
2. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 324 -44
3. John Force (1) 314 -54
4. RON CAPPS 275 -93
5. Courtney Force 218 -150
6. JACK BECKMAN 205 -163
7. Robert Hight 201 -167
8. Jonnie Lindberg 183 -185
9. Jim Campbell 180 -188
10. J.R. Todd 170 -198