Hagan has plenty of reasons to be confident heading into the final two-race stretch of the season. He has won four events, most recently in Seattle, and has advanced to eight final rounds, which is all Hagan has to consider to realize his Dickie Venables-led team is more than capable of tracking down Force.
“When you look at the competition and how hard it is to win, to have scooped up four wins at this point, how do you not have confidence in your guys?” Hagan said. “They know what it takes to get it done. We just have to have some good conditions and a good track to go out there and run well. Looking at some of the stuff in the last couple of races we’ve just had some crummy luck along the way. We have two good races left to go to. Vegas is always a good track and so is Pomona. I’m really looking forward to hopping in my Mopar Funny Car and digging deep, working hard and making things happen.”
In addition to Force and Hagan, other notables in Funny Car who are still mathematically in contention in the Countdown are defending champ Jack Beckman, who trails Force by 126 points, Robert Hight who is 134 back and two-time champ Cruz Pedregon, who is in fifth place in his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry, 150 back of the leader. Four-time series runner-up Ron Capps is also still in the conversation at 160 points behind.
NHRA teams in all four Mello Yello Series categories will be racing hard to earn every point that is up for grabs during the weekend, as they seek to improve their positions in the top 10 points standings. A single team can earn a maximum of 150 points during the race if they win, set a national E.T. record, earn the No. 1 qualifying position and are the quickest qualifier in each session.
In Top Fuel, it’s a tight race between several first-time championship hopefuls that includes series leader and six-time season winner Shawn Langdon, who holds an 83-point advantage over Doug Kalitta and 85 points over Spencer Massey. Several others are still in title contention, but will need a strong showing in Las Vegas to boost their title hopes, including fourth place points-sitter driver Morgan Lucas, defending world champ Antron Brown and four-time event winner Tony Schumacher.
Pro Stock features a classic group of former world champions battling for the top prize, with everyone chasing JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Avenger veteran Jeg Coughlin. Mike Edwards is in second place and is this season’s winningest driver with six victories total, while Jason Line, who drives the Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro, is currently in third. Defending world champ Johnson is 73 points back in his Team Mopar Avenger.
The battle in Pro Stock Motorcycle will showcase the brewing rivalry between 2007 world champion and points leader Matt Smith and Hector Arana Jr. Smith has a 125 point lead over Arana Jr. and could clinch the championship title if he can add 26 more points to his lead at this event. Arana Jr., Michael Ray, Hector Arana Sr., and Krawiec all will be racing hard to keep the championship battle in the two-wheel category going for one more event.