There is only one time per year when drivers on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series circuit have to compete in an event as unique as the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway.

But the way reigning Funny Car world champion Matt Hagan sees it, if he is able to win one of the most thrilling and adrenaline-filled moments of the season, then he is capable of winning no matter what situation is presented to him throughout the course of the 2015 season.

“If you’re able to adapt to all the different aspects and variables of this race, it makes you a better driver and competitor,” Hagan said. “You definitely have to rise to the occasion with this event. Being able to win the Four-Wide Nationals is definitely a confidence booster. It takes you out of your element and puts you in a situation you’re not used to. It makes you grow as a competitor and a driver. As a driver, team, and crew chief, you have to adapt, but different things like that make you a better driver in the long run.”

With four 10,000-horsepower machines lined up in a row on the starting line all weekend, the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, which takes place March 27-29 at prestigious zMAX Dragway, presents one of the must-see events of the season, also serving as the fourth of 24 races in 2015.

Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Jimmy Alund (Pro Stock), and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will once again be televised on ESPN and ESPN2. ESPN will provide live eliminations coverage on Sunday starting at 2 p.m., and Mello Yello Series racing will begin at 1 p.m. (ET) at the track.

Hagan has one Four-Wide Nationals victory, which came in 2013 against Blake Alexander, Chad Head, and Tim Wilkerson. The sensory-filled event requires a little something extra for success, a characteristic that Hagan has developed over the years.

“It definitely changes everything around,” Hagan said. “You have to learn to adapt, but there’s so much more going on. When those four cars go down the track, it’s like a shockwave. It’s pretty incredible to watch, and it definitely wakes all of your senses up. You have to change your routine up a little bit, but the big thing is you have to be right on top and aware of everything. You have to make sure you’re doing everything right.”

That wasn’t a problem for Hagan a year ago when he claimed his second Funny Car world championship, taking three of his four victories during the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, including a victory at the Countdown kick-off at the NHRA Carolina Nationals.
Those good vibes have continued in 2015 for Hagan and his 10,000-horsepower Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T. Hagan won the first two events this season in Pomona and Phoenix and currently sits in first place in the points standings. A Four-Wide Nationals victory would only further that momentum.

“I’ve won it once, and we had a great race car that day,” Hagan said. “Having to beat three cars in the final, it definitely changes that aspect of the game.”

It’s especially true considering the talent-filled Funny Car class, which includes Hight, who has two Four-Wide victories and four overall wins at zMAX Dragway. Other stars include John Force, Courtney Force, three-time national event winner Alexis DeJoria, Del Worsham, Cruz Pedregon, Jack Beckman, Tommy Johnson Jr., and Ron Capps, who won the most recent event in Gainesville.

Hagan and his team, led by crew chief Dickie Venables, aren’t standing pat either. Despite the car running well, they continue to test a six-disc clutch that showed massive potential during preseason testing. But Hagan knows there is no need to rush into big changes at the moment.

“I have to show up and do the best job I can,” Hagan said. “Dickie isn’t going to make changes to the car until he’s 100 percent confident in them. We have a real good hot rod with this five-disc combo right now, so we need to have a handle on the six-disc setup before we make any changes.”

In Top Fuel, Brown won at the Four-Wide Nationals for the first time last season and claimed six victories in 2014. Spencer Massey won in 2012 and 2013 and also won last weekend in Gainesville, and reigning world champ Tony Schumacher, who won the most recent event in Phoenix, has two victories at zMAX Dragway but is looking for his first in the unique four-lane format. Doug Kalitta, J.R. Todd, three-time world champ Larry Dixon, reigning rookie of the year Richie Crampton, Brittany Force, Steve Torrence, and Leah Pritchett will all be major contenders as well.

Substituting for four-time world champ Greg Anderson, who had off-season heart surgery, Alund ran the first five races and struck gold at zMAX Dragway. Anderson, a two-time winner of the event, is looking to build momentum after his 75th career victory last weekend at Gainesville, and teammate Jason Line won the season-opening Winternationals in Southern California. Others to watch include reigning world champ Erica Enders-Stevens, 2012 world champ Allen Johnson, Phoenix winner and current points leader Rodger Brogdon, rookie sensation Drew Skillman, Shane Gray, and Jonathan Gray.

haganHines and his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson teammate Eddie Krawiec dominated the Pro Stock Motorcycle season, combining to win 11 of the 16 events in 2014. Hines claimed his first win of the year in Charlotte and claimed five more titles en route to his fourth career world championship. Krawiec, 2009 world champ Hector Arana Sr., 2013 event winner Hector Arana Jr., two-time world champ Matt Smith, Angie Smith, Karen Stoffer, who won in Gainesville, and Steve Johnson will all be competitive in the two-wheeled category.

As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and enjoy some cherished face time with their favorite NHRA drivers.

Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food, and fun for the entire family.

Mello Yello Series qualifying begins Friday, March 27, with sessions at 1:15 and 4:15 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, March 28, also at 1:15 and 4 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 29.

The 2015 NHRA Four-Wide Nationals will also feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.


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