Matt Hagan Hopes Home Cooking Helps At NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals
Matt Hagan, driver of the DieHard Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car for Don Schumacher Racing, is excited about this weekend’s 11th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals because he considers it a “home race” as the Bristol Dragway sits some two hours from his Christiansburg, Va., home.
The excitement for the 28-year-old Don Schumacher Racing driver is twofold – competing on the 1,000-foot drag strip in front of family and friends and coming off a solid performance in the last race.
“I’ve got double duty this weekend,” he said. “I’ve got to drive and I’ve got to entertain family and friends, but that’s cool, I’ll be just fine.
“We’re going to have fun. It’s cool to be so close to home; it’s cool so many folks want to get my autograph.
“I’ll get to sleep in my own bed Thursday night, then get into my truck, drive to Bristol Friday and jump in the DieHard car for qualifying (two nitro rounds scheduled, beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET).”
Hagan went to the semifinals almost two weeks ago in Englishtown, N.J., his best finish since the second race of the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season, and heads into this weekend holding fifth place in the Funny Car standings.
“We made a strong showing in the last race, especially against John (Force) in the first round,” said Hagan, who edged the 2010 Funny Car champion by .035 seconds. “We are definitely headed in the right direction and I can’t wait to get back into the car Friday.
“Tommy DeLago (crew chief) and the DieHard team are getting a better handle on the race car and we are quite capable of winning this weekend.”
According to Hagan, the team has moved to a setup like last season’s which produced three national-event victories, the elapsed-time record (set twice by Hagan) and challenged Force through the final race of the season for the championship (he finished in second place).
“I’m confident we’ll get there,” he said. “Tommy’s an animal as a crew chief – and that’s a good thing.”