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Hagan closes out Houston Raceway Park with Funny Car victory at NHRA SpringNationals

by Mike Haag | Posted on Sunday, April 24th, 2022

By Mike Haag, Raceday San Antonio

BAYTOWN, Texas – Matt Hagan denied Bobby Bode the chance at winning his first NHRA Funny Car national event victory at the final NHRA SpringNationals Sunday at Houston Raceway Park.

Matt Hagan. Photo courtesy of the NHRA

Hagan, driving his Dodge Power Brokers Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car, posted a winning run of 3.982 at 326.63 mph. It was his second win of the season and 41st in his career.

“First of all, Bob and Bobby Bode are doing a great job,” Hagan said. “That kid is doing a great job driving and I’m super proud of him. We need youngsters like that coming up in the sport. I hated to rain on his parade for his birthday weekend. That is drag racing though. I’m here to do a job and to win.”

Bode, who was racing in his first career final, suffered a massive engine explosion near the finish line. He crossed the finish line in his Ford Mustang with a 4.046 at 282.95. Bode’s march to the finals included round wins earlier in the day against Alexis DeJoria, Cruz Pedregon and Chad Green.

Hagan reached the finals for the fourth time this season with round wins against John Force, No. 1 qualifier Ron Capps and J.R. Todd.

Matt Hagan. Photo courtesy of the NHRA

Hagan’s victory was his 41st career win and his second at Houston Raceway Park. He won his first career win here on April 11, 2010 to bookend his career at HRP.

“This has been a special place for me,” Hagan said. “This is where I got my first win, so this race means a lot to me and to close it out here, that’s huge. It was another good weekend and I feel like we’ve been making a statement. There’s a lot of heavy hitters in this class and there’s no easy runs.

Hagan said that Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) dedicated this weekend’s victory to the late Dick Venables, the father of Hagan’s crew chief, Dickie Venables. Dick passed away on Dec. 29, 2021 and had a passion for drag racing that paved the way for Dickie’s NHRA career that has lasted for 40 years.

“It was so special for Dickie Venables (crew chief) to have his whole family here for the win, following his dad’s passing at the end of last year,” Hagan said. “Dick Venables is a huge part of Dickie and what he has been able to accomplish in his career. It’s so special for Dickie to have that inspiration from his dad.”

Hagan added, “To be able to give Dickie and his family the trophy this weekend is massive. Dickie means so much to me and it’s so cool because racing is his life. To be able to come out of here with a win is huge.”

Hagan now leads the Funny Car championship standings with a 60-point advantage over Robert Hight.

About the Author

Mike Haag has covered motorsports in San Antonio and South Texas for more than 34 years. In addition to covering motorsports for the San Antonio Express-News for nearly 28 years, Mike also has co-hosted TrackSmack with Dawn Murphy for 17 race seasons. In addition to being a writer, Mike taught high school English and Journalism for 30 years before retiring in May, 2020.