Norwalk: Matt Hagan preview

HAGAN LOOKING TOWARDS COUNTDOWN AS NORWALK NEARS CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (June 23, 2010) - With only five national events remaining in the 2010 Full Throttle Drag Racing Series before the Countdown to 1 playoffs kick in for the top 10 in points in...

HAGAN LOOKING TOWARDS COUNTDOWN AS NORWALK NEARS

CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (June 23, 2010) - With only five national events remaining in the 2010 Full Throttle Drag Racing Series before the Countdown to 1 playoffs kick in for the top 10 in points in the final six races of the year, Matt Hagan is focused on securing a berth to vie for his first Funny Car championship.

The driver of the DieHard Dodge Charger Funny Car for Don Schumacher Racing is third in the standings heading into the fourth annual NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio, this weekend. He's won two events so far, set a national elapsed-time record, and is eager to move up in the standings and clinch a spot in the playoffs. He is just 68 markers short of second place, and 126 out of first.

"Right now it's very possible we could move into second place," said the 27-year-old Angus Cattle farmer from Christiansburg, Va. "If we accomplish that then we'll worry about getting into first and getting ahead of (points leader) John Force. We definitely have to take it one race at a time. And I'm looking forward to returning to Norwalk, where I've raced Pro Mod in the past. The fans are great there.

"Every time you think John is in a slump he jumps right back up there and wins another race," added Hagan, referring to Force's victory last Sunday in Bristol, Tenn. "He's won four and we've won two, so we have to win two more to catch up. The DieHard Dodge is always qualifying well, so we are earning those qualifying bonus points, which is great, and we still have five races to try to break even with him.

"We're not as worried about the points right now as we are about making sure that we secure our spot in the top 10. I think that's what the crew chiefs are trying to do and that's what I'm trying to do as a driver. Last year, as a rookie team, we didn't have a place in the top 10. After that, it was kind of depressing the rest of the year, so we don't want to be in that situation again. We're doing what we need to do and the DieHard guys are doing a good job, and hopefully I'm doing my part.

"I'm just really excited to run a bunch of these races back to back (Norwalk is the fourth straight race). It puts a lot of pressure on me at home trying to make sure that everything gets done during the hay season, but racing is the priority and we're going to go out there and do the best we can."

As for crew chief John Medlen being reassigned to the NAPA AUTO PARTS team at DSR, "It's kind of back to the way things used to be before John came on board in March," said Hagan. "John is a smart guy and he's helped our program, and we've learned a lot from him, but the change shouldn't really affect our team. We're still going to talk to him and relay information back and forth.

"I've been really proud of (tuner) Tommy DeLago. He's turning into a seasoned crew chief and I have no worries. He and John will still communicate and we shouldn't miss a beat. John and Ed McCulloch (former NAPA crew chief who will act as DSR consultant among the three Funny Car teams) will work well together, because John is so easy to get along with."

-source: dsr

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Don Schumacher , Matt Hagan , John Medlen