MATT HAGAN GRABS FIFTH STARTING SPOT FOR SUNDAY’S SPRING NATIONALS
BAYTOWN, TEXAS, April 30, 2011 – Matt Hagan drove his DieHard Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car into the fifth starting position for Sunday’s 24th annual NHRA Spring Nationals as today’s qualifying rounds ended here at Royal Purple Raceway.
The 28-year-old cattle farmer from Christiansburg, Va. will face Robert Hight, points leader in the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car championship standings, in the first round of eliminations. Hagan expects a battle from the onset against both the elements and the driving competition.
“It’s going to be tough,” said the Don Schumacher Racing driver, who is the defending event champion. “The conditions will be like today, when we had trouble getting down the track, and Robert is always a tough competitor.
“I’m prepared to do what it takes. Last year, the track threw us a curve and I had to pedal the car to the finish in the finals. I’m prepared to do it again this year, if that is what is necessary.”
The runner-up for last year’s Funny Car championship remains optimistic in the face of these obstacles.
“We had trouble getting down the track today, but so did Hight; everyone is in the same boat here,” he said. “I am just looking forward to going rounds and getting myself back up in the points and building momentum for the future.”
Hagan entered this weekend holding fifth place in the standings, trailing Hight, Mike Neff, DSR teammate Jack Beckman and Cruz Pedregon.
“They’re all great drivers with great teams,” he said. “But I know Tommy DeLago (crew chief), just an animal tuner, and my DieHard guys are the equal to any of them and we are capable of winning on any given Sunday.
“I would like to begin that process tomorrow, here, the place where I got my first Funny Car win, which launched us on that great run last year.”