HAGAN HANGS ON TO NO. 1 FOR U.S. NATIONALS CLERMONT, Ind. (Sept. 5, 2010) - Matt Hagan's Funny Car track-record-setting No. 1 elapsed time of 4.039 seconds at 277.89 mph he set on Saturday held through two more qualifying sessions on ...
HAGAN HANGS ON TO NO. 1 FOR U.S. NATIONALS
CLERMONT, Ind. (Sept. 5, 2010) - Matt Hagan's Funny Car track-record-setting No. 1 elapsed time of 4.039 seconds at 277.89 mph he set on Saturday held through two more qualifying sessions on Sunday, earning the driver of the DieHard Dodge Charger his second No. 1 of the season, the fourth of his career and the first at the U.S. Nationals.
Today's two rounds of qualifying, in the heat of the day, produced a 4.107/297.88 and a 4.094/301.07 (quickest of the round). Hagan earned seven valuable bonus points for his efforts.
"It's huge to come out here and qualify No. 1," said Hagan, who is competing in his first Countdown to the Championship playoffs after a 2009 rookie season in which he finished 11th and out of the Countdown. "I remember back when I was racing in the IHRA (in 2008) and I'd come over here [to race in NHRA] and qualify 16th," he added, referring to his first time at the U.S. Nationals. To be able to go from that and within two years qualify No. 1 here is a huge step in the right direction for my career and the whole program out here.
"I owe it all to (crew chief) Tommy DeLago. He gets smarter every day. I don't know how he puts it all together up there, but he does. He's got some really cool ideas and we've been working on some stuff. We came out here and tested a couple days before the race and I definitely think it's paying dividends back to us.
"The track is great. We owe a lot to the track being great and being able to run those kinds of numbers out here. Last year it was a little different race track and the weather just kind of worked out in our favor this weekend. It's cool to hang on to that caliber of a machine; it's really an honor."
Hagan will face off against Tony Pedregon in the opening round of eliminations on Monday. "Tony is never an easy draw," he said, "because he can leave on you. You never know what you're going to get with that guy. He had our number last year. Every time I lined up against Tony I couldn't get around him. This year we've had a little better luck (3-0), but you never know.
"I'm going to put my game face on tomorrow and go in there and pull my belts down tight because I know Tommy is coming to play. We're just going to come up there and do what we do and that's go rounds.
"It's definitely warmer today and that's going to play into tomorrow. It's going to be a little bit warmer tomorrow, if the weatherman is right. But, with Tommy, he's got a pretty good baseline. When we were testing here it was warmer so he was kind of just playing around a bit today trying some new stuff. He wanted to go up there and try to get a baseline but he kind of already had one so it just really built on his confidence and my confidence to be able to go down the race track and not smoke the tires or do anything crazy."
As for the importance of earning bonus qualifying points, "They're huge," he said. "I was adding them up. We got four last night and three today so they're definitely going to add up and I think they're going to count. I think they're going to make a big difference when these bonus points come in to play in the last couple of races. We're trying to get as many as we can and I know Tommy DeLago swings for the fences a lot of times. A lot of times we're either heroes or zeros and here lately Tommy has been on top of things and he's been the man. We've been racking up those points."