(Photo courtesy NHRA)

2016 NHRA season in review: Funny Car driver Matt Hagan

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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

IndyCar race weekend doubleheader schedule at IMS road course

IndyCar weekend schedule Indianapolis
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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The NTT IndyCar Series will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the third time this season but with a weekend schedule that will put the action in front of fans for the first time in 2020.

The track’s 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course will play host to IndyCar and sports cars series over four days. The action will begin Thursday with practice and concluding with an eight-hour race Sunday featuring the Intercontinental GT Challenge and GT World Challenge America.

The NTT IndyCar Series will hold a Friday-Saturday race doubleheader called the Harvest GP presented by GMR.

ENTRY LISTS: Who’s racing IndyCar at IMS this weekend

The name is a nod to the Harvest Classic, which was held Sept. 9, 1916 to help the track stay solvent during World War I. The event had three races of 20, 50 and 100 miles (all won by Johnny Aitken) that was the only racing held outside May at IMS from 1911-93.

A limited crowd of 10,000 will be allowed each day this weekend, and those fans will be the first to experience new video boards, concession stands, restrooms and 5G wireless connectivity.

Here’s the IndyCar weekend schedule for Indianapolis Motor Speedway Harvest GP:

(All times are Eastern)

IndyCar weekend schedule: Thursday, Oct. 1

Noon — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America test session
2:25 p.m. — IndyCar practice (NBC Sports Gold)
6:20 p.m. — IndyCar qualifying for Harvest GP, Race 1 (NBC Sports Gold)

IndyCar weekend schedule: Friday, Oct. 2

10:20 a.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America practice
1:40 p.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America practice
3:30 p.m. — IndyCar Harvest GP, Race 1 (USA Network, NBC Sports Gold)

IndyCar weekend schedule: Saturday, Oct. 3

10:20 a.m. — IndyCar qualifying for Harvest GP, Race 2 (NBC Sports Gold)
12:10 p.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America qualifying
2:30 p.m. — IndyCar Harvest GP, Race 2 (NBC, NBC Sports Gold)
5:30 p.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America pole shootout

IndyCar weekend schedule: Sunday, Oct. 4

10 a.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America race