Team Owner Matt Hagans Sees Other Sides of "The Big One"
ARCA VETERAN WATCHES HIS EQUIPMENT GET DESTROYED AND A FRIEND GET HURT AT TALLADEGA
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (October 6, 2005) -- Over recent years, the term "The Big One" has crept into the vocabulary of those involved with racing at big tracks. Whether it's in the ARCA RE/MAX Series or one of NASCAR's top divisions, it's been all too common for large-scale, multiple-car wrecks to occur on the superspeedways at Talladega and Daytona. In fact, those types of major wrecks seem to happen enough that many fans have been sensitized to just how violent those wrecks are.
But to car owners, like Matt Hagans, there is a definite economical and human cost that is paid anytime "The Big One" happens. Hagans watched as his driver, Joey Miller, got caught in a major wreck with the #9 Hagans Racing Dodge in the opening laps of Saturday's Food World 300 at the Talladega Superspeedway.
"There was "The Big One" in front of him and Joey slowed down just a little too much for it," said Hagans. "He got a little too aggressive on the brakes and a car behind him ran over him. That's what happens when you are in the back. Of course, it can happen anywhere you are running at Talladega. We're glad that Joey wasn't injured."
A chain of events led to Miller having to come through the field after starting in the back of the pack with a very fast racecar.
"We got there and were very fast in practice," said Hagans. "I think that we were third or fourth and then we decided to make an airbox change after qualifying. That turned out to be a mistake. It cost us a lot of time and we ended up qualifying poorly. We were going to be stuck running that unit.
"Fortunately, or unfortunately, during happy hour we found a hole in the rear-end oil cooler. We were forced to change that and had to start in the back. Since we had to do that anyway, we went back to our other airbox. We changed that on our pace laps and Joey reported that the car really responded to that. It felt good and had more power at the beginning of the race."
Aside from the obvious dollars and cents it takes to replace equipment destroyed in a major wreck, there is also an emotional cost. Hagans watched one of his close friends, Brack Maggard, take a very hard hit in the same wreck that Miller was involved in.
"We're very happy that the guy who was most injured, Brack Maggard, is going to be ok," said Hagans. "He was airlifted out with back and chest injuries and he was released on Monday and will be fine."
Hagans switched from being a car owner to a friend of a fellow racer once the smoke cleared from the wreck.
"I went and saw him at the hospital in the trauma center on Saturday afternoon. I was with his wife. They are close friends of ours. We've spent time boating together in the Bahamas with him and his wife along with my wife and I.
"You realize that anyone can be hurt in those races. He got caught in the middle at the beginning of the race. His car was already loose when someone tried to take it three wide. It was an unfortunate thing and an awfully hard hit. It destroyed his car and he hit so hard that he hit his chest into the steering column. He's in a lot of pain, but he's walking around and will be fine. That's good to hear."
The Hagans Racing team has concluded their season in the ARCA RE/MAX Series by finishing second in the point standings and leading Miller to the 2005 ARAC Rookie of the Year award. The organization is now exploring its options for the 2006 racing season.