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Matt Hagan goes back to top of Funny Car at NHRA Arizona Nationals

Matt Hagan earned his second-straight Funny Car pole position by going to the top of Funny Car at the NHRA Arizona Nationals.
22 Feb 2020
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Race coverage
Matt Hagan

Matt Hagan earned the 38th pole position of his career on the strength of the run he made during the second qualifying session of the NHRA Arizona Nationals. Hagan ran a 3.859-second pass at 331.61-mph, putting his Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat at the top of the Funny Car qualifying sheet.

Hagan will race Jeff Diehl in the first round of the NHRA Arizona Nationals, the second of 24 stops on the Mello Yello NHRA Drag Racing Series tour. The Don Schumacher Racing driver also earned pole position at the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com, which opened the season, and the Auto Club NHRA Finals, which concluded the 2019 season. 

“We have a really great race car,” said Hagan. “It’s driving well and it’s handling well. The car has been really performing. I’m just really excited about tomorrow. We’re going to have great weather on race day and we’re going to get after it. Dickie (Venables, crew chief) is one of those guys that really rises to the occasion all the time. When you’re strapped in that car and the conditions are right he can really throw down and always put you right where you need to be. Not a lot of guys out there can really say that.”

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John Force came in .002-second behind Hagan with a slightly quicker speed of 331.94 and will race Terry Haddock in the first round at 11 a.m. Mountain Time. Force is hunting his 152nd career victory as the winningest driver in NHRA history. His most recent victory came at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis in 2019. 

2019 Funny Car champion Robert Hight powered his Auto Club Chevy Camaro to the No. 3 qualifying position with a 3.867-second hit at 3330.55. The John Force Racing driver will race Jim Campbell in the first round as he looks for his first victory of the 2020 season and first final since the final race of the 2019 campaign. 

Blake Alexander, in his first race of the 2020 season, qualified in the No. 12 position in his Pronto Auto Service / Head Racing Ford Mustang. That booked him a matchup against fellow Ford Mustang driver Bob Tasca III, who took his Mike Neff-tuned Ford Motorcraft machine to the No. 5 machine behind a 3.883-second pass. 

Jack Beckman, who has won back-to-back events thanks to excellent performance at Auto Club Raceway, will start race day from the No. 6 position. He ran a 3.889 and earned a matchup against former Funny Car world champion Cruz Pedregon. Pedregon is racing with crew chief Eric Lane in his Snap-On Dodge Charger and qualified No. 11 with a 3.962. 

The first round of Mello Yello NHRA Drag Racing is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Wild Horse Motorsports Park. You can get tickets here or catch all the action on NHRA.tv.