Don Schumacher Racing press release
MATT HAGAN REACHES QUARTERFINALS AT BIG O TIRES NHRA NATIONALS
Moves into first place in Funny Car standings
LAS VEGAS, October 30, 2011 – In a true dogfight for the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series championship, DieHard/Rimco Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver Matt Hagan reached the second round here today in the 11th-annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals and heads into the final race of the season with a one-point lead in the standings.
A catastrophic mechanical failure ended Hagan’s day in his quarterfinal-round race against Cruz Pedregon, who is third in the Countdown to the Championship competition.
“We had a parts failure, which happens; it was nobody’s fault,” said the disappointed driver, who had taken the points lead by out qualifying Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman. “I have a lot of confidence in my guys; we’ve been here before and we know what to do and what’s going to happen.
“It’s coming down to the last day and we’ll be ready. It’s a dog fight out there and we’re happy to be in it.”
Coming out of the fifth-starting spot, Hagan opened today’s contest by running 4.138 seconds at 307.09 miles per hour down The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to defeat Tim Wilkerson and set up the match with Pedregon.
“This is the fourth consecutive race where we could have put some distance between us and the field,” said the 28-year-old Christiansburg, Va. native. “But the same thing can be said by everyone in the top group.”
Less than four rounds will separate the top six drivers in less than two weeks when the 47th-annual Automobile Club of ¬Southern California NHRA Finals begins. Beckman, at one point behind, Pedregon, 26, Mike Neff, 34, Robert Hight, 71, and Ron Capps, 72, who won today’s race, round out the group chasing Hagan.
Hagan, last year’s runner up in the Funny Car championship, is enjoying the overall experience.
“There’s no pressure,” he said. “It will be what it will be. I’m having fun. I didn’t win the race, which is disappointing, but we got out of the first round, which some other guys didn’t do and we’ll be back in two weeks to take a shot at the championship.”