MATT HAGAN REACHES QUARTERFINALS IN NHRA SOUTHERN NATIONALS
COMMERCE, Ga., – Matt Hagan drove the Autolite/DieHard Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car into the quarterfinals of the 31st NHRA Southern Nationals here today at Atlanta Dragway.
The 28-year-old Don Schumacher Racing driver cited a major positive accomplishment after the weekend in Georgia, despite the second-round departure from the race.
“It looks like Tommy DeLago (crew chief) has a handle on the Autolite/DieHard Funny Car,” he said. “We ran two 4.10s this weekend and the car felt good.
“Tommy’s going with the setup which was so successful last year (when the then sophomore driver finished runner-up in the Funny Car championship) and this is really important as we get into the hot weather, when tracks get trickier.
“I’m happy with how this Funny Car is running now.”
Hagan, a cattle farmer from Christiansburg, Va., opened the race with a first-round victory over Paul Lee, using his quickest pass of the weekend (4.107 seconds at 301.81 miles per hour) to secure lane choice in the second round against Mike Neff, who eventually lost in the finals to Hagan’s DSR teammate Jack Beckman.
According to Hagan – whose 4.484-at-212.39-mph pass was not enough to catch Neff’s 4.126 at 301.13 – his driving was at fault in the loss.
“I let it get out of the groove,” he explained. “And when the track is as hot as it was today, it’s tough to bring it back in quickly enough against a driver like Mike. I kind of lost us the round.
“But the way things are beginning to turn around for the Autolite/DieHard car, I’m looking forward to next week’s race in Topeka.”
Hagan heads to Heartland Park for the May 20-22 23rd annual NHRA Summer Nationals holding fifth place in the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car standings, trailing Neff, Beckman, Robert Hight and Cruz Pedregon (respectively).