Charlotte: Matt Hagan Saturday report

HAGAN QUALIFIES NO. 9 IN DRAMATIC FASHION CONCORD, N.C. (March 27, 2010) - Matt Hagan survived a spectacular explosion in the third round of qualifying for the Inaugural NHRA Four-Wide Nationals to qualify the DieHard Dodge Charger Funny Car in...

HAGAN QUALIFIES NO. 9 IN DRAMATIC FASHION

CONCORD, N.C. (March 27, 2010) - Matt Hagan survived a spectacular explosion in the third round of qualifying for the Inaugural NHRA Four-Wide Nationals to qualify the DieHard Dodge Charger Funny Car in the No. 9 spot.

After struggling to qualify in the first two sessions, Hagan pulled out a solid 4.104-second lap at 296.50 mph in the third session, despite experiencing a spectacular engine explosion at the finish line which destroyed the DieHard body as well as other major mechanical components.

Hagan was stunned by the concussion, but came out with only minor scratches and bruises and was ready to race again in the final session. The DieHard team, with help from nearly every Don Schumacher Racing team on the premises, rebuilt the chassis and replaced the body, engine, etc., to get Hagan back on track.

The 27-year-old Angus Cattle farmer from Christiansburg, Va., went on to post a stellar 4.110/308.14 in that pass, eliciting a round of applause from the thousands of fans in the stands.

"It was a pretty bad boom," he said of the explosion. "I felt it start to lay over and before I could get my foot out of it it grenaded and I was just kind of along for the ride. I saw Del (Worsham, his left-lane opponent) over there to the left of me, and I was trying to keep it away from him; there was just a lot going on.

"It hit my hand so hard I just had to check and make sure all my fingers were there. Thank goodness it was just a couple of nicks and stuff. All the safety stuff did exactly what it was supposed to do, and I'm grateful that everything worked the way it was supposed to."

As for the final pass, "It's always good to get back on the horse after you have something that bad happen to you," he said. "To be able to get back on the horse and go out there and run a 4.11, a nice solid easy lap, nothing major going on, was what I needed, so I don't have to think about it all night tonight.

"I know we have a good race car. I don't how it's going to pan out with this four-wide stuff. They seem to be throwing the lights a little quick up there. I don't know if everybody is going to adapt to that or not, but it's a little adjustment for me. It seems they're falling pretty quick. As soon as everybody gets staged it's boom and go. You have to be right on top of your game, so hopefully I can get a good night's rest, get some aspirin in me and hopefully come out strong tomorrow."

Hagan faces Robert Hight, Paul Lee and Jeff Arend in the opening round of Sunday's eliminations.

-source: dsr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Paul Lee , Jeff Arend , Don Schumacher , Robert Hight , Matt Hagan