February 08, 2015

POMONA, Calif. (AP) Defending Funny Car champion Matt Hagan opened the season with a victory Sunday in the NHRA Winternationals at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

After overcoming a spectacular engine explosion during qualifying Friday, Hagan rallied to qualify 12th on Saturday and powered his Dodge Charger R/T to four round victories Sunday.

In the final, Hagan had a 4.011-second run at 320.89 mph to hold off his teammate Ron Capps. Capps' Charger finished in 4.078 at 314.90.

Hagan said with crew chief Dickie Venables making adjustments on his car, his confidence in his 10,000-horsepower race car never wavered.

''You try to put it out of your mind and not think about it,'' Hagan said. ''These are animals out there and you never know what you are going to get when you crawl in there to drive one. It's always an experience. You have to respect it, but you can't fear it.''

It was Hagan's second straight Pomona win, fourth overall victory at the track and his first in the Winternationals. The Virginia rancher has 15 career victories.

''Pomona is very special to me and it's an historical track,'' Hagan said. ''The fans are awesome here. It's been great. The history of this track and everything that's happened here through the years, it puts it in perspective for me and makes (winning here) even more special.''

Shawn Langdon won in Top Fuel, and Jason Line topped the Pro Stock field.

Langdon held off Antron Brown at the finish line with a 3.799 at 309.91. It was Langdon's second Winternationals win and the 10th victory of his career.

Line claimed his fourth Winternationals Pro Stock victory by outrunning rookie Drew Skillman, finishing in 6.545 at 211.83 in his Chevy Camaro.

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