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NHRA: Matt Hagan edges past Robert Hight

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Matt Hagan competes in the final round of the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in Pomona on Feb. 11.
(Marc Gewertz / NHRA)

Matt Hagan beat defending season champion Robert Hight in the funny car final Sunday in the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in Pomona.

Hagan edged Hight with a 3.823-second pass at 335.90 mph.

“Keeping our team upbeat and confident and starting the year up on a positive note is good for our team to set goals, no matter how hard they may be to obtain,” Hagan said.

“Everything was clicking this weekend, and even more than the parts and pieces it’s about having the right guys to use what we have, and so far we’ve done it well.”

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Doug Kalitta won in top fuel, and Bo Butner topped the pro stock field. Kalitta had a 3.779 at 324.28 to edge Tony Schumacher in the final, and Butner ran a 6.549 at 209.62 against teammate Jason Line.

Earlier, defending top fuel season champion Brittany Force escaped serious injury in a wall-banging crash in the first round.

John Force Racing said the 31-year-old driver, the daughter of funny car great John Force, didn’t suffer any major internal injuries, but had some bruising of the lungs and will remain hospitalized overnight as a precaution.

The team said a CT scan was negative and an MRI exam showed subtle findings probably from previous injuries.

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Force was racing against Terry Haddock when her 11,000-horsepower dragster veered right just off the start, shot to the left — crossing in front of Haddock — and slammed into the left wall.

It spun with the tangled parachute catching the nose and hit backward into the right wall, flipping on its side. The dragster ended up back on what was left of the wheels when it finally skidded to a stop.

She was taken to a hospital about the same time her father went out with an engine explosion.


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