BRISTOL, Tenn. (May 17, 2009) - With high hopes of doing well today in front of a large group of family and friends at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, located a stone's throw from his Christiansburg, Va., home, Matt Hagan's day ended at the starting line in the first round of Funny Car eliminations.

Piloting the Funny Car for Don Schumacher Racing, Rookie-of-the-Year frontrunner Hagan was more than disappointed when the car spewed out a puddle of oil as the crew started the engine in preparation for the face-off against Tony Pedregon. The run was aborted and the car pulled away to allow a clean-up and for Pedregon to complete his winning run.

"We fired the car up and the next thing you know Tommy (DeLago, crew chief) is reaching down and his hand is full of oil," said Hagan. "You know then that you're going to get shut off. So, I'm pretty disappointed, mainly because we were in front of our hometown crowd and we wanted things to go well. It seems like when you're away from everybody and nobody knows who you are things go great, and when you try to put something together in front of everybody you know it seems to struggle to come together.

"I can't emphasize enough how great the crew is. No matter how it might look, they're doing a great job and they're putting a great car together for me to drive. We're only human, we're going to make mistakes. I'm making plenty out there. We just have to make a circle and keep our heads up and move forward.

"I know it hurt us in points," added Hagan, although he held on to sixth place. "We have to keep on going out there and trying to go rounds. It's going to fall where it's going to fall. We qualified this weekend and that's a big step in itself."

"We had an oil line fail and once it starts leaking oil you can't make the run," said a dejected DeLago. "It's a real bad deal. It's bad for DSR, bad for the kid. He had family and friends and everybody out here. It's also bad for the whole points situation.

"We'll just have to put our noses to the grindstone and get ourselves back into this thing."

Next up is the NHRA Summer Nationals in Topeka, Kan., May 29-31.

-credit: dsr