MATT HAGAN WILL START THIRD IN SUNDAY’S AUTO-PLUS® NHRA NATIONALS
MOHNTON, Pa., October 1, 2011 – Matt Hagan piloted the DieHard Advanced Gold Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car into the number-three-starting position – and first in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship standings – for Sunday’s 27th annual Auto-Plus® NHRA Nationals here at Maple Grove Raceway.
The 28-year-old Don Schumacher Racing driver opened Friday’s qualifying with a class-leading 4.076-second lap at 308.50 miles per hour using data from last year’s win – including a record-setting pass – at the Southeastern Pennsylvania track.
He followed with a 4.012 run at 316.67 mph to set up a first-round match with 14th-qualifier Blake Alexander during final eliminations, which begin at 11 a.m. EDT.
“We feel good and are having a good weekend,” said the Christiansburg, Va. native who starts Sunday’s race on top of the standings for the first time in 2011. “We need to go rounds tomorrow and in the remaining races. It’s nice to put up low numbers and to maybe lower the record (which he set two weeks ago in Charlotte at 3.995 seconds), but winning is more important.
“We need a good game plan for the rest of the Countdown and it will be more about winning rounds and races than setting records.”
Being quickest in Friday’s two rounds, as well as grabbing the points for qualifying third, allowed Hagan to pass Mike Neff in the standings as race day commences.
“There’s still a lot of racing left,” he said. “We’re not done. We have to keep on working and racing; we can’t take anything for granted – and we won’t!”