Don Schumacher Racing press release
“HOME GAME” PLAYOFF START FOR MATT HAGAN IN THIS WEEKEND’S NHRA NATIONALS AT zMAX DRAGWAY
CONCORD, N.C., September 12, 2011 – When Matt Hagan brings his DieHard Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car to the starting line for Friday’s first qualifying session of the fourth-annual NHRA Nationals here, he will be embarking on his quest for the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle championship in front of family and friends.
The race marks the beginning of the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs with the Christiansburg, Va. native holding sixth place in the Funny Car standings, 70 points off the leader, Mike Neff.
“I’m looking forward to all my family and friends coming here for this race,” he said about the trip to zMAX Dragway, outside Charlotte, which is just a few hours from home. “This will be the first race my wife attends in 2011 and it’s great. I don’t think having all of these folks around will take away my focus; I think you do better under these circumstances because you want to produce in front of everyone you know.
“I’m looking to get the Countdown started right and would like to collect our first win of the season. I can’t think of a better place than here to do just that!”
The 28-year-old Don Schumacher Racing driver comes in confident in himself, his car and his crew chief.
“I think the DieHard Funny Car is coming around; we had a very good car in Indy,” he said about the last race. “We ran an 06, an 06 then smoked the tires in the semis, but even though we didn’t win, we came out confident in our ability to compete.
“I think that first win is just around the corner. This is a great race track for Tommy (DeLago, crew chief) and if the conditions are right, we could reset our record.”
Despite the up-and-down season, Hagan does not feel any excessive pressure coming into the Countdown.
“I don’t feel any real pressure,” said last-year’s runner up in the championship. “We’re in a position as a come-from-behind kind of guy. Obviously we want to do well, but pressure is something self-imposed and we won’t do that.
“You do the best job you can every time and the results take care of themselves.”