As the NHRA’s best drivers prepare for the return of four-wide drag racing to zMAX Dragway this weekend, defending Funny Car champion Matt Hagan knows he’s got his work cut out for him to earn his fourth Wally at the Bellagio of drag strips and his first of the season. Despite a wildly competitive class – which saw the final four drivers separated by just 0.012 of a second at the four-wides in Las Vegas earlier this month – Hagan feels confident as he returns to his home track.

What he’s saying:

On the competitiveness of this year’s Funny Car class:

“The final that I was in, in Vegas, there was 12,000ths (of a second) difference between all four cars. I mean, it was unbelievable to have four cars running down there that fast in a final. And, you know, three of us got beat on a holeshot. But it was just a photo-finish final. And, you know, to have four funny cars run that close together is unbelievable.”

On what it takes to win 4-Wide:

“A lot of times, the motor is not happy or something's happening, you would click it off and shut it down (in the two-wide format). (In four-wide, where two cars advance), it don't matter whether you're on fire upside down, you got to go to the other end, you know, because you don't know if those other two cars even left the starting line. So it makes it very, very interesting. It's definitely a twist that we don't see anywhere else other than these two two events that Bruton has at those tracks (Charlotte and Las Vegas).”

 On his outlook on the start of the 2024 season:

“We're a little behind this year. Last year we won six races, and three of those six we'd already won by now. So, we've done some stuff with a change in combinations and in the motor and housing and a couple of different things. You have to always evolve and you have to always innovate. But, you know, when you do that, you change one thing. It changes stakes. So I feel like we're just a little bit behind the eight ball. It's exciting because when crew chiefs get it, they're like, ‘oh, I got it,’ you know what I mean? So they're always changing things. But it was nice to see the car last weekend in Vegas really respond to the changes.”

On giving advice to team owner Tony Stewart in his rookie season racing Top Fuel:

“I'm not really giving him any pointers unless he comes over and asks for something. I'm not one to be like, ‘hey, do it this way or do it that way.’ I think that, you know, at 300 miles an hour, you're out there on your own, but you got to kind of figure it out a little bit, you know? That was the advice that was given to me when I drove Tim Wilkerson's car for the first time to get my license. And, I mean, it rings true because, you know, until you make those mistakes and have that seat time, no one can tell you how to do it or what you did wrong.”

Hagan’s quest for his first Wally of the season starts Friday with qualifying under the lights as the dragway hosts its Night of Fire. All four pro categories will set the field with two rounds of qualifying on Saturday before elimination Sunday.


Fans can purchase tickets to this weekend’s NHRA 4-Wide Nationals online at or by calling 1-800-455-FANS (3267). Every ticket is a pit pass, so come early to see your favorite drivers and their cars up-close before a festival of 44,000 horsepower ignites the excitement!


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