2016 NHRA season in review: Funny Car driver Matt Hagan

(Photo courtesy NHRA)
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Over the next three-plus weeks, MotorSportsTalk will feature season-ending reviews of the top drivers of the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.

Each day, we’ll have one in-depth review of a driver that finished in the top-five in each of the four professional classes (Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle), as well as a compendium of select other drivers that did not finish in the top-five.

The list of drivers we’ve already posted is below. Today, we feature Funny Car driver Matt Hagan:

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Driver: Matt Hagan

Age: 34

Hometown: Christiansburg, Virginia

Team: Don Schumacher Racing

Sponsor/car: Mopar/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger

Crew chief: Dickie Venables

2016 season finish: Third in Funny Car.

2016 season statistics: 24 races, 4 wins, 2 runner-up, 5 semifinals, 8 quarterfinals. No. 1 qualifier five times. Round-by-round record: 40 wins, 20 losses.

Career statistics: 192 races, 22 wins, 20 runner-up, 28 semifinals, 62 quarterfinals. No. 1 qualifier 26 times. Round-by-round record: 265 wins, 166 losses. Four DNQ. Won NHRA Funny Car championships in 2011 and 2014.

What went right in 2016: Hagan was once again a Funny Car force to be reckoned with this past season. His four wins put him in position to contend for the championship before fading in the latter stages of the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff. … Hagan has been a machine when it comes to reaching the winner’s circle in recent seasons: He won four races each in 2016, 2015 and 2014, and five wins in 2013, giving him 17 of his 22 career wins in the last four seasons.

What went wrong in 2016: Hagan suffered five first-round losses in the season, which greatly impacted his ability to overtake eventual champ Ron Capps. … After winning at Indianapolis, Hagan struggled in the Countdown at times, particularly the first two races, where he failed to advance past the quarterfinals at Charlotte 2 and St. Louis. While he won at Dallas, which gave him a boost of hope, he lost in the semifinals at Las Vegas 2 and in the first round of the season-ending race at Pomona, ending any hope of a third title.

What to look for in 2017: From a statistical standpoint, Hagan is due for a third championship in 2017 – if you consider that his first two titles came in 2011 and 2014, separated by two seasons in-between. Since it now has been two additional seasons since his last title, Hagan has at least a statistical edge in 2017, if you believe in those kinds of things. … With teammates Ron Capps (2016 NHRA Funny Car champion), Tommy Johnson Jr. (finished second) and Jack Beckman (finished fifth), Don Schumacher Racing promises to have yet another strong season in 2016 – and Hagan will likely be right in the middle of that effort.

Season reviews already posted:

— Antron Brown (12/12)

— Ron Capps (12/13)

— Jason Line (12/14)

Jerry Savoie (12/15)

Doug Kalitta (12/16)

Tommy Johnson Jr. (12/17)

Greg Anderson (12/18)

Eddie Krawiec (12/19)

Steve Torrence (12/20)

— Matt Hagan (12/21)

— Shane Gray (12/22)

— Andrew Hines (12/23)

— J.R. Todd (12/24)

— John Force (12/25)

— Bo Butner (12/26)

— Angelle Sampey (12/27)

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list; Musquin remains out

Shimoda injured
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media
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Bad news continues to come out of the Monster Energy / Pro Circuit Kawasaki team as they announced Jo Shimoda injured his shoulder in a practice session and will not mount up when the Monster Energy Supercross 250 East division opens in Houston, Texas on February 4. A timetable has not been given for Shimoda’s return, but a press release from the team references multiple weeks.

“I’m doing my best to focus forward on my return to racing,” said Shimoda in the release. “Our goal was to compete for the 250 Supercross Eastern Regional Championship and I know we had been doing the right work to make that happen. Unfortunately, this crash will cause me to miss the start of the season, but I still aim to be back on the track racing for wins before the end of Supercross.”

Shimoda is joined on the sidelines by teammates Seth Hammaker and Austin Forkner, who also suffered injuries in recent weeks.

The news of Hammaker’s sidelining came just two days ago. His wrist injury is sufficient to require surgery, so he too will miss multiple weeks. Hammaker was scheduled to compete in the 250 East division alongside Shimoda.

Forkner was involved in a Lap 1 crash in the 250 West season opener at Anaheim. Multiple injuries, including an ACL tear, will sideline him for the remainder of the season. He described the injury and its aftermath on Instagram.

Forkner will be relieved by Carson Mumford, but not before that rider’s wrist has healed sufficiently. He is scheduled to debut with Kawasaki in Oakland for the rescheduled Round 2 Supercross race on February 18.

Shimoda finished fourth in the 2022 Supercross 250 West division and was second in 2021 points in 250 East. In 2021, Shimoda won his first Supercross race at Salt Lake City. Last year, he scored one podium and six top-fives in nine starts.

Shimoda finished second in last year’s outdoor Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season, where he added two more SuperMotocross wins including the Unadilla Nationals that kicked off a four-race streak of first- or second-place results.

Kawasaki is not the only team facing injury. Red Bull KTM initially reported Marvin Musquin would be out for the San Diego round with a wrist injury and “maybe more”. This week it was announced he will miss this week’s Triple Crown race in Anaheim and “at least the next several rounds.”