'There's still a lot of racing left but the season is upon us so we have to really get going.'
A two week hiatus from NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series competition meant catching up on farm work and family time for Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.
The NHRA series last raced on April 25-27 near Houston before this weekend's 34th annual NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, where Hagan and the Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots team earned the No. 1 qualifying spot a year ago and went on to be the runner-up to former DSR teammate Johnny Gray.
"I've finally caught up on the farm a little bit," Matt said. "Just been fertilizing and working on roads and baling hay, staying busy and spending some time with my kids. We're coming up on a huge race swing when we'll be racing 10 out of the next 12 weekends. It's going to be tough to not be home and see them every day so I've been soaking up time with them."
Getting the first win of the season has been on Matt's mind during his time off. The Mopar team led by crew chief Dickie Venables hasn't advanced past the first round of eliminations at four of six Mello Yello events this season and sits eighth in Funny Car points standings.
"We've had a tough season so far, there's no way around that," he said. "We've gone out in the first round a bunch but we're still sitting in the top-10. We need to make something happen quick so that we can stay in the top-10 and compete for a championship. There's still a lot of racing left but the season is upon us so we have to really get going.
"It's going to be awesome to go back to Atlanta. Obviously we want to win, we were runner-up there last year. None of our DSR Funny Cars have a win yet this season so we want to be the first to pull down a trophy for Don (Schumacher) and all of our sponsors like Mopar and Rocky Boots that support us."
Even though Hagan has been on his cattle farm in rural Virginia, he's stayed in contact with his team based at Don Schumacher Racing headquarters in Brownsburg, Ind.
"Talking to Dickie I feel like we're on the right track to turn this car around," Matt said. "It ends up being a few little things here and there that bit us in Houston. Dickie knows what's going on and he's a great, smart crew chief.
"All the folks that root for us, just keep on doing it because the car is going to turn around and we're going to have some fun doing it."