LOCAL VIRGINIAN HAGAN READY TO ROPE IN A BRISTOL WIN CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (May 12, 2009) - While he's not quite a rodeo star, although he has been kicked by one of his horses on the 500-acre Angus Cattle farm he manages in Christiansburg, Va.,...
LOCAL VIRGINIAN HAGAN READY TO ROPE IN A BRISTOL WIN
CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (May 12, 2009) - While he's not quite a rodeo star, although he has been kicked by one of his horses on the 500-acre Angus Cattle farm he manages in Christiansburg, Va., NHRA Rookie-of-the-Year frontrunner Matt Hagan is ready to lasso himself a victory at this weekend's NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway.
The 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Funny Car rookie sensation has come close to claiming his first win this season after reaching the final round in Las Vegas. He has also qualified for every event so far, including five of them in the top half of the field, and posted his season-best starting position of second at the last event in St. Louis. Not only that, he set quickest elapsed time and top speed of the event at Gateway Int'l Raceway. The humble 26-year-old stands sixth in points, just 30 markers out of second place, a slot he held briefly after his Vegas runner-up finish. His Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps currently has a stronghold on first place.
Hagan is hungry for that first victory. "I think that we have a good race car," he said. "We just have to have some breaks along the way. It takes a lot of skill out here to do what we are doing, but we also have to have a little bit of luck going our way. And I think that when we get that we'll see it all come together and we'll be in the winner's circle.
"I would love to do it in Bristol because it is kind of my hometown track being just a two hours' drive away. Everybody I know is going to be there and I'd love to go out there and qualify well, run well and go as many rounds as possible. And hopefully we can attract a major sponsor who will see how our success and Don Schumacher Racing's resources will benefit them." Hagan lost his primary sponsor early in the season due to the nation's fluctuating economy. "Things change and life's tricky some times," he said. "I'm just fortunate enough that my family is stepping in and allowing me to be able to run this car."
As for his solid results this year, "I think a lot of that comes from (crew chief) Tommy DeLago and Don Schumacher," said Hagan. "Don is letting Tommy do a lot of r&d work back at the race shop and there are a lot of smart guys working at DSR during the week, and it's showing on the race track.
"We have plenty of power, so it's just a matter of applying that power. The entire Shelor.com team and the guys working back at the shop are the ones to thank. When I'm at home working on the farm, they're there finding power for us. And that's what it takes, a good r&d program. And that's what Don Schumacher has put together."
Hagan's limited experience racing at Bristol Dragway has included test runs and competing in Pro Mod and Sportsman events. "I've never raced a nitro Funny Car there, and I'm excited to get there and hear the thunder echo in the valley when the nitro cars run," he said.