ROOKIE FRONTRUNNER HAGAN IN TIGHT FUNNY CAR BATTLE CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (April 28. 2009) - The popular NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Funny Car category continues to provide drag-racing fans the outstanding competition among a slew of...
ROOKIE FRONTRUNNER HAGAN IN TIGHT FUNNY CAR BATTLE
CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (April 28. 2009) - The popular NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Funny Car category continues to provide drag-racing fans the outstanding competition among a slew of Funny Car stars that it has for generations. This season is no exception. Rookie Matt Hagan, driving the Shelor.com Dodge for Don Schumacher Racing, is immersed in a tight battle not only for Rookie-of-the-Year honors but for the championship as well.
Hagan hopes that this weekend's NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill., will see his return to at least the second spot in the rankings which he enjoyed oh so briefly after the season's fifth event in Las Vegas.
Hagan is fifth in the standings, just 39 markers short of second spot and 108 behind leader and DSR teammate Ron Capps. While Capps has won three of the first six events, a different driver at each event has won the other three.
"The class is so tight right now that you can't really tell what will happen at any event," said Hagan. "You just have to go out there and do the best you can. Obviously, you want to go out there and beat everybody, so you have to stay focused.
"We have a good team right now and a good race car and I think Tommy (DeLago, crew chief) is finding the horsepower," added Hagan, who has qualified in every event this year, as well as in the top half of the field in all but two of the six races so far. "We just have to keep after it. We never thought we were going to be in second place anyway right off the bat like that, so all we were doing before was trying to go rounds and trying to improve on our combination. If we can keep that mindset and not worry about where we're sitting in points we'll be all right."
As for adjusting to his ride in a DSR Funny Car: "As a driver I feel great," he said. "I'm more comfortable in the car. I would like my lights (reaction times) to be a little better, but there are so many factors that go into your lights, such as how you stage the car, the fuel response from the car, and just how fast you hit the gas pedal.
"Tommy and I are working on some stuff on the car which should help in that area and I continue to work on my reaction times away from the track as well. Hopefully we won't lose too many on a holeshot this year." He hasn't lost one yet.
Gateway is not new to Hagan, who has competed at this facility in his early years as a drag racer. "I ran there a couple of times when I ran my nitrous car way back in the day. So, I'm pretty familiar with the St. Louis track. As long as it's not hot, I think it will be OK."
"Back in the day" for the 26-year-old Angus Cattle farmer is somewhere in the 2002-2004 year range.