ROOKIE FRONTRUNNER HAGAN MAKES FIRST VISIT TO ATLANTA DRAGWAY CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (April 14, 2009) - Matt Hagan is making a number of first appearances at drag strips throughout the country in his rookie year driving the Shelor.Com Dodge Funny...
ROOKIE FRONTRUNNER HAGAN MAKES FIRST VISIT TO ATLANTA DRAGWAY
CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (April 14, 2009) - Matt Hagan is making a number of first appearances at drag strips throughout the country in his rookie year driving the Shelor.Com Dodge Funny Car in the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. He's pretty much conquered those he's attacked so far, including The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last week, at which he reached his first final round and vaulted into second place in the point standings.
This weekend's NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway is also new to Hagan as the frontrunner in the Rookie-of-the-Year competition, but the 26-year-old Angus Cattle farmer from Christiansburg, Va., is up to the challenge.
"It's great that we're doing so well and hopefully we can keep it rolling," said Hagan, who trails his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps (class winner in Las Vegas) in the rankings by 106 points. "You never know with these cars. It could change quickly, so we want to keep that momentum moving into this weekend and the rest of the season.
"I have a lot of confidence in (crew chief) Tommy DeLago. It seems like we found some horsepower last weekend and hopefully we can apply it to the track and be able to go run some good numbers in the next couple of races.
"Still, any time you learn something new there's a learning curve that goes along with it. We still have to walk on our tippy toes so we don't go too far over the edge and beat ourselves. It's been a great experience, and we're having fun with it.
"I've never been to Atlanta Dragway, so it's brand new all the way around for me. Every track seems to be pretty similar. NHRA does such a good job of keeping everything pretty close. As long as it has plenty of shutdown, that's all I care about. It should be a new track for the other rookies too, so it's not like we have an advantage on them or they on us."
As for what he learned after losing to his DSR teammate and points leader Capps in the Las Vegas final round, "I learned that it felt awful to lose," he said with a smile. "It was great that Ron won his third race of five of the year. That just shows you how competitive Ron and the NAPA team are. Only two other people had opportunities to win other than him, so just to be there and have that chance to beat him was huge for me.
"And I think that really gave a lift to our whole team because we're growing together. If we can grow together and continue to do well and the more we know about each other and the better we work together the better our team is going to be."