One factor is for certain: You may by no means rely out Matt Hagan.

With a lot of the main target early within the Countdown to the Championship falling squarely on the battle between Robert Hight and a resurgent Bob Tasca III, the three-time Humorous Automobile world champion was able to remind the world that he’s removed from out of this factor.

Hagan returned to the thick of the playoff hunt two weeks in the past with an exhilarating victory on the Midwest Nationals in St. Louis, then backed that up with a second straight victory Sunday on the Texas NHRA FallNationals on the Texas Motorplex to take over the Humorous Automobile factors lead with two races remaining.

“What an exquisite day at the moment,” Hagan mentioned. “It was the whole lot that we might hope for. Some heavy hitters went out early, and we have been capable of capitalize on that this weekend. It speaks volumes to have the ability to return to again in Humorous Automobile. To win six races out right here is unbelievable, simply shy of what Robert (Hight) did final yr with eight. It’s onerous to win one race in Humorous Automobile, and to have the ability to pull down six wins this yr is unbelievable. My aim this yr was to win six or eight races, and right here we’re at six with two races left to go.”

Hagan defeated motorsports icon John Drive in Sunday’s Humorous Automobile remaining, powering his American Insurgent Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to victory with a 3.883-second move at 332.25 mph. With the win, Hagan now sits one victory shy of fifty for his profession whereas additionally tying Hight for essentially the most Countdown wins (15) for the reason that inception of the postseason program.

Drive, in his 266th profession remaining spherical, misplaced traction early within the run and was pressured to get out of the throttle and accept his second runner-up end of the season. Drive had wins on the day over Jeff Diehl, Cruz Pedregon and J.R. Todd.

It was removed from a straightforward path to victory for Hagan, however with a robust workforce assembled by Tony Stewart — a workforce which doubled up Sunday with Leah Pruett claiming the Wally in Prime Gas — Hagan was capable of finding the help wanted to proceed to make the decision and go rounds.

“I don’t know that we ran the most effective on the market,” Hagan mentioned. “We had some points with the gasoline pump falling off the automobile as a result of it was so bumpy down there and stuff like that. We went by way of three gasoline pumps, and we ran out of tires and you might be pondering, ‘Oh, my gosh, I hope we’ve acquired sufficient components and items.’ The fellows stole some stuff from Leah’s workforce, however it’s a nice group, and everyone is prepared to assist and share, which makes it really feel like household. That’s one thing that Tony actually tried to instill with this group that we’ve over right here. We’re constructing a legacy within the sport with what we’ve carried out and the entire races we’ve gained. Now we’re enthusiastic about attempting to get TSR the primary championship, and also you simply comprehend it’s doable.”





With fellow contenders Hight, Tasca and defending class champion Ron Capps falling out within the opening two rounds Sunday, Hagan took full benefit. Hagan defeated Paul Lee and Alex Laughlin within the opening rounds with passes of three.895 and three.868, respectively, after which formally regained the factors lead for the primary time since August with a win over Tim Wilkerson within the semifinals.

Hagan reached his eighth remaining spherical of the yr and the 87th of his profession with a 3.875 at 328.85 within the semifinal win, getting away cleanly and simply driving round Wilkerson’s 3.897, 328.95.

Two weeks in the past, Hagan additionally had wins over Drive, Tasca and Capps to earn the victory in St. Louis, giving him 10 spherical wins in his final 11 aggressive passes and, extra importantly, conserving his closest rivals from gaining floor.

“With the ability to capitalize on one thing like that doesn’t occur fairly often,” Hagan mentioned. “For Capps, for Robert, for even Tasca to exit within the first two rounds, it simply doesn’t occur. They’re such an excellent group of vehicles that they’re going to be aggressive and go rounds. So in St. Louis, I mentioned, ‘Now we have to win St. Louis or we’re actually not going to have a shot at this.’ And to return right here and win this race, too, it places us the place we must be.

“Somebody mentioned to me final weekend it’s like a knife battle in a cellphone sales space, it’s going to be tight. I’m actually pleased with my guys, pleased with Leah’s workforce, pleased with the whole lot we achieved at the moment.”

Hagan was particularly proud to have the ability to double up alongside his Prime Gas teammate and supply workforce proprietor Tony Stewart one other win within the sport. Hagan boldly acknowledged that with Stewart serving to information this workforce, there isn’t a cause this group can’t win the championship this yr.

“What an awesome group we’ve over right here,” Hagan mentioned. “Tony Stewart, I simply can’t say sufficient about him. The man is unbelievable. He’s an unbelievable driver. He’s an unbelievable individual, he’s unbelievable to work for, and he’s an awesome workforce proprietor. It’s really taking stress off of me as a result of he can relate to what we’re doing within the wheelhouse as a driver. Tony has put an awesome group round us and offers us the whole lot we want. There’s not been something that Tony has mentioned that we couldn’t get, so there’s no cause aside from us that we shouldn’t win this championship.”

Now the main target shifts to Vegas in two weeks with solely two races remaining within the 2023 NHRA Tenting World Drag Racing Collection season. Hagan left Dallas with a 36-point benefit over Tasca, whereas Hight dipped to 3rd, 69 markers off the tempo.

“Two races to go, it’s anyone’s ballgame on the market,” Hagan mentioned. “We’ve at all times carried out fairly good in Vegas. We’ve at all times carried out very well right here, so I used to be excited to get right here and hopefully do what we simply did at the moment. We at all times say that it’s important to win two races within the Countdown to actually have a shot at successful the championship. It’s nonetheless tremendous shut, however we’ve acquired two [race wins] within the Countdown already. Dickie [Venables] has been pushing onerous and placing an awesome automobile beneath me, and my guys have been doing an awesome job. You may’t ask for something greater than that.

“We turned on win lights and took over the factors lead once more. We led the factors just about all season, however you’ve gotten some moments the place stuff slips by way of the cracks and different folks step up. We actually rose to the event at the moment and [at St. Louis] as properly.”






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