HAGAN SNAGS NO. 4 IN POMONA QUALIFYING, HEADS INTO ELIMINATIONS WITH 38-POINT LEAD POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 13, 2010) - Immersed in a fierce battle for his first Funny Car championship against 14-time titlist John Force, DieHard Dodge Charger Funny...
HAGAN SNAGS NO. 4 IN POMONA QUALIFYING, HEADS INTO ELIMINATIONS WITH 38-POINT LEAD
POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 13, 2010) - Immersed in a fierce battle for his first Funny Car championship against 14-time titlist John Force, DieHard Dodge Charger Funny Car racer Matt Hagan snagged No. 4 in qualifying for the 46th annual NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif.
After four qualifying rounds, Hagan enters Sunday's eliminations with a 38-point lead (two rounds) over No. 2 qualifier Force, posting his quickest pass of 4.094 seconds at 301.67 mph in the final session. He earned seven qualifying bonus points to Force's four.
Hagan's other passes were a 4.139/293.86 (No. 1), a tire-smoking 9.397/69.74 (No. 6), and a 4.136/288.70 (second quickest of the round to his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman – No. 7 on the roster). He will face Ford driver Bob Tasca III in the opening round of Sunday's eliminations.
"I'm really, really excited that we have Tasca tomorrow. We have an opportunity to take a (Ford) team car out and that's one less leg for [John Force's team] to stand on. Hopefully, we can go up there and do well.
"The only thing I can do is get some good sleep tonight, get a good dinner in me, and wake up with a big smile and know we've got a shot out there.
"Other than that you can't worry about it. You can't lose any sleep over it, and it will be what it will be, and hopefully it will turn out in our favor.
"It's great to have the attention," he added of the media coverage surrounding the championship battle. "That means that we're getting some ink out there for DieHard and DSR and everybody else. The way I look at pressure is, if we don't have pressure right now, then we're not doing our jobs. This is when we're supposed to have pressure because we're out there getting it done.
"We're so close to winning this thing. If we're up here and we're laid back it means we're not in contention to win anything. Pressure is a good thing. You have to turn it into a positive and make sure you don't make mistakes up there."
As for his consistently strong performances this year, "I attribute that to (crew chief) Tommy DeLago. This guy is an animal. I love him to death. He's an up-and-coming crew chief just like I'm an up-and-coming driver and I think you're going to see lots of great things from him in the future. I hopefully can work with him for a really long time. At least my career will be better if I do that.
"I'm just excited to be here. Tomorrow I'll wake up knowing that I have an opportunity to go out there and win the championship my second year into it, and that is cool. I sure am glad we're leading instead of chasing."
If Force and Hagan go round-for-round in eliminations, they could meet in the final round.