MATT HAGAN BLASTS ONTO POLE FOR SUNDAY’S NHRA FINALS
Takes 12-point championship lead into season finale
POMONA, Calif., November 12, 2011 – Matt Hagan tore down the drag strip today here to land the DieHard Advanced Gold/Rimco Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car onto the pole for Sunday’s 47th-annual Automobile Club of ¬Southern California NHRA Finals, holding a 12-point lead in the championship.
Hagan banked a 4.033-second lap at a track-record 315.27 miles per hour in today’s first qualifying session to gain his fourth number-one qualifier of the season (10th in his career). The 28-year-old Christiansburg, Va. Native faces 16th-qualifier Jon Capps in the first round of final eliminations which begin at 11 a.m. PST.
“I’m really proud of my guys and Tommy DeLago (crew chief),” he said. “They’ve done a great job all year, and have really stepped it up during the Countdown (to the Championship playoffs).”
Hagan carries a 12-point lead over Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman, or one full round (worth 20 points), as well as leads of 35 over Cruz Pedregon and 40 over Mike Neff.
“It’s great being a round ahead going into the last race,” he said. “But I’m not looking at the points; we just have to go rounds tomorrow. If we do our job, it won’t matter what the others do. They’re all great competitors.”
Last year Hagan went into this race with a two-round lead over John Force, who would win the race as well as the championship.
“We all learned a lot last year,” explained the DSR driver. “We know what we have to do and we’ll approach Sunday’s race calmly. There is nothing more we can do than the things we’ve done to get us here.
“I have to focus on doing my job at the starting line and going down the track, anything I can do to give us an advantage. I have faith in what Tommy and Glenn (Huszar, assistant crew chief) and the guys have done all year. “We went down the track three times (4.137 and 4.088 in the previous two sessions; the fourth was rained out), so we have good data and confidence in knowing this race track.”