Matt Hagans Overcomes Adversity to Finish 11th at Talladega Phil Bozell Returns to HR Dodge at Iowa Fresh off Car Owner's Strong Run at Plate Track INDIANAPOLIS, IN (October 10, 2006) -- Not much was going to stand in the way of Matt Hagans...
Matt Hagans Overcomes Adversity to Finish 11th at Talladega
Phil Bozell Returns to HR Dodge at Iowa Fresh off Car Owner's Strong Run at Plate Track
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (October 10, 2006) -- Not much was going to stand in the way of Matt Hagans on Friday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway (AL). Hagans wanted nothing more than to prove that his Hagans Racing restrictor plate racing program was one of the elite engine shops in the ARCA RE/MAX Series. Hagans already showed that this season at Daytona International Speedway in February, when Hagans finished an impressive third.
On Friday, Hagans again was in contention for his first-career ARCA victory at the fast 2.66-mile Talladega tri-oval. He qualified at the front of the field with a third-fastest time trial lap on Thursday and raced in the top-five for much of the race. Even when the draft shuffled him back, he never left the front pack of contenders. Hagans was in perfect position for at least a top-five finish, but late in the race contact with another driver caused a flat tire that put him deep in the field. A last dash to the front found him in 11th when a late caution flag flew. By the time that caution came out, the sun had already set and officials deemed it too dark to resume, so Hagans was forced to settle with an 11th-place finish in a race where he was bound for so much more.
"We've got a good program," said Hagans. "The guys did a great job with the setup and with the motor. Greg Iossi builds a heck of a power plant. We held the pole for most of qualifying and had a great starting position. I was running second to the #09 car (Mike Wallace), and I think we were setting some pretty fast times. We were just biding our time for a run for the win in the last few laps. We just weren't able to get it done after the contact and the flat tire.
"The 46 (eventual winner Frank Kimmel) pushed his way on the inside, and I guess he thought he had room. I kind of feel like I got shoved up, but I guess you'd have to look at the replay to see what really happened. The contact cut down a tire that came apart and tore up the left-front fender. We came in the pits and the guys did a great job of getting me back out without losing a lap."
Even with the damage to the Eagle Creek Aviation Services #9 Dodge, Hagans was not about to give up. He was on a mission to get back to the front of the field in the closing laps before darkness set in. Hagans drafted his way back towards the top-10, setting a torrid pace through the pack with a little help from other drivers in all different lanes of the newly-repaved racetrack.
"The guys did a great job with the racecar. The car was a little tight, but when I would drive in the middle three-wide, it freed the car up and I could run a little better there. We came up from the back of the pack and finished 11th. I was working well with the #31 car (Timothy Peters) and got as high as we could before the caution and the dark. All we damaged was the left-front fender, my ego and my pocketbook a little bit, but we'll come back and see if we can get them in Daytona when we go back to a plate track next year."
Before the HR team opens the 2007 season at Daytona International Speedway next February, the entire operation is focused on wrapping up this season with a strong run at the new Iowa Speedway in Newton, IA, on Sunday, October 15th. Hagans Racing Development Driver Phil Bozell will be back in the #9 Dodge for the first time since his first-career ARCA RE/MAX Series win at The Milwaukee Mile in late August. The Prairie Meadows 250 at Iowa Speedway will be Bozell's fifth start of the season with Hagans Racing, and even though it will be at a new track for him, the young driver is ready to back up his Milwaukee triumph in Iowa.
"I can't wait," said Bozell. "We're going to go out there and hope for a good run to close out the season on a high note and back up what we did in Milwaukee. I watched the Hooters Pro Cup race to learn a little bit about the track. I talked to some of the drivers that tested out there recently about the racetrack, too. They've given me some pointers on how to get around there, and I think we'll be in good shape this weekend.
"We've been on a pretty good high with this race team lately. After Milwaukee, (fellow HR Development Driver) Tim Russell and Matt both had good runs going at Chicagoland and Talladega, but their finishing positions didn't show just how good they were. We'll go out there and try to finish the season on a high. Now that we've gotten things going, I want to keep it up at Iowa."
The Prairie Meadows 250 at Iowa Speedway will take the green flag live on SPEED at 2:30pm ET.