Don Schumacher Racing press release
MATT HAGAN WINS RACE, FUNNY CAR CHAMPIONSHIP AT SUNDAY’S NHRA FINALS
POMONA, Calif., November 13, 2011 – Aboard his DieHard Advanced Gold/Rimco Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car Matt Hagan completed a dream season here by capturing today’s 47th-annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals and the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car championship.
The third-year flopper pilot blitzed the strip at Auto Club Raceway Pomona with one of the quickest 1,000-foot times in NHRA history – 4.009 seconds – to defeat Robert Hight in the final round. His ouster of Cruz Pedregon one round earlier secured the championship, on a day when every round was significant.
“The biggest race of my life was the (second) round against Jack (Beckman, Don Schumacher Racing teammate who came into the day less than a round behind Hagan in the standings); that MOPAR Dodge has been running great and we knew we had to beat him for a chance at the title,” explained Hagan, who brought a less-than three-round-lead against four drivers into the season finale. “Every round was big today. I “owed” Robert because he beat me here on a hole shot in the first race of the season in February.
“I’ll admit I’m greedy because I wanted the championship and I wanted to win the race.”
Today’s achievements vanquished the ghosts from last year when he finished runner up in the standings after losing a two-round lead, at this event, to 2010 champion John Force.
Hagan credited the members of the team with the success.
“Winning the championship is a testimony to Tommy DeLago (crew chief), Glenn Huszar (assistant crew chief) and all of my DieHard guys. I knew if I did my job, we’d have a great chance to win it all because they do such a great job at theirs,” he added about a group which also won the Full Throttle Hard-Working Crew Award for the event (“for coming back from losing the 2010 and winning their first Funny Car championship”). “I love them like brothers.”
The 28-year-old Christiansburg, Va. cattle farmer won the event “from wire to wire,” having put the DieHard hot rod onto the pole with a 4.033 pass at 315.27 miles per hour in the third qualifying session.
Coming from the number-one spot, he defeated Jon Capps in the opening round before meeting Beckman, who trailed by less than a round, in the quarterfinals. Hagan posted a 4.107 pass at 307.44 mph to top his teammate’s 4.142 at 310.27 mph to set up the title-winning run against Pedregon.
The win was Hagan’s second of the season (both within the Countdown to the Championship playoffs) in his fourth final-round and fifth in his 11th career final-round.
“I’m really glad my family was here to see this,” he said. “It’s really cool to celebrate with them!”
And his thoughts when he saw the win light at the end of the race with Pedregon: “I was so excited and happy; I can’t explain the feeling to anybody. I just wanted to crawl out of the race car while it was going 300 miles per hour!