Matt Hagan Finds the Nitro Funny Car Winner's Circle at IHRA Rocky Mountain Nationals despite Heavy Heart Kevin Jones (Top Fuel), Carl Spiering (Pro Modified), Laurie Cannister (Alcohol Funny Car) and Bob Bertsch (Pro Stock) also claim ...
Matt Hagan Finds the Nitro Funny Car Winner's Circle at IHRA Rocky Mountain Nationals despite Heavy Heart
Kevin Jones (Top Fuel), Carl Spiering (Pro Modified), Laurie Cannister (Alcohol Funny Car) and Bob Bertsch (Pro Stock) also claim championships at Castrol Raceway in Edmonton
EDMONTON, Ab. (July 7, 2008) -- Matt Hagan knocked off Grant Downing to claim the Nitro Funny Car title at the CARS RV & Marine & Motorsports Rocky Mountain Nationals in Edmonton, but his visit to the Winner's Circle was less than joyous. Though his focus was on racing his mind was worlds away, on friend and teammate Dale Creasy Jr. at Royal Alexandria Hospital in downtown Edmonton.
Creasy suffered severe leg trauma following his semifinal round crash Sunday afternoon and was airlifted to the hospital. He was scheduled for surgery Monday with a broken right foot and compound fractures in his left leg. Creasy is the driver responsible for getting Hagan into a competitive Nitro Funny Car this season after he moved up from the Pro Modified ranks, and the win at Castrol Raceway. He considers Creasy his mentor and, after watching the life-flight helicopter take him away from Castrol Raceway, found it virtually impossible to keep his focus.
"That's the toughest part. You can't find out any information about what happened because no one knows," Hagan said. "You watch your friend be taken away in a helicopter, then you have to get re-focused on doing your job. You try to stay focused but all you can do is think about Dale. It was a really tough deal."
Hagan was able to focus enough to defeat Steven Macklyn in the semifinal. He then, after the rains washed away the final rounds Sunday, made a solo pass for the win Monday morning when racing resumed and Grant Downing, his finals competition, could not answer the call. Hagan made a strong lap for the fans Monday but blew the body off his Monte Carlo, causing a bit of cosmetic body damage. But he couldn't have cared less about the car when he knew Creasy was scheduled for surgery a couple of hours later.
"Blowing the body off the car didn't help things, but that was the least of it," Hagan said. "Now we're going to go to the hospital to see Dale. I'm giving him the trophy from this race because he deserves it. He's helped so many people in this class and has been such a big part of my career. This Ironman isn't mine, it's his. I just hope he's okay."
Hagan is going to stop at chassis-builder Murf McKinney's shop on the way home. He had to get his wheelie bars repaired after breaking them in the final round, but he has other things on his agenda as well.
"I want to talk to Murf to see if there is something we can come up with to better protect the driver's legs in these cars," he said. "These things are dangerous; we know that every time we strap ourselves in. But if we can come up with something to protect the driver better I think we should make every effort to do it. We all have families. I have a year-and-a-half old son and a wife. I want to make sure everything is as safe as possible. I know I'm taking a risk when I get in the car, but I want to eliminate risks that might be unnecessary. Murf is a smart man, hopefully we can come up with something to address this."
Kevin Jones (Berea, Ky.) claimed his second career Ironman in the Torco Pro Nitro Top Fuel class, stopping Budds Creek winner Bobby Lagana Jr. in the final round. Jones is a fan of rain-delayed events...his first career victory came at the rain-delayed Sooner Nationals in Tulsa last season. Jones defeated Spencer Massey in the first round and Tim Boychuk in the semifinals to advance to the final round.
There, against Lagana, neither driver could put together a smooth lap. Both had to pedal their cars, but Jones was able to get his Interstate Batteries rail hooked up sooner and reached the finish line first with a 5.271 pass at 280.84 mph. Lagana clocked a 6.301 at 182.90.
Carl Spiering (Jordan Station, Ontario) has not been a regular on the IHRA circuit this season, but when he shows up to race he always makes his presence felt. Spiering drove his Eaton-backed Corvette to the Pro Modified championship in Edmonton, defeating Thomas Patterson in the final.
"This is just terrific," an elated Spiering said after the race. "We tried to stay on our game plan for this deal and it worked. We didn't put down any big numbers, but neither did anyone else. We remained consistent throughout and it paid off."
Laurie Cannister (Johnstown, Ohio) claimed the Alcohol Funny Car championship Sunday before the rains came, defeating Paul Noakes in the final round for the second time this season. Canadian Bob Bertsch claimed the Pro Stock Ironman in memory of his fallen crew member, John Weisler, who passed away during the President's Cup Nationals in Maryland three weeks ago.