Matt Hagan Reaches Quarterfinals Of NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals
Matt Hagan drove the DieHard Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car into the quarterfinal round of today’s NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals here in the culmination of what he called a progressive weekend of racing.
Performing in front of a “hometown” audience, his Christiansburg, Va. home is but a couple-of-hours’ drive from Bristol Dragway, Hagan followed four solid qualifying runs, which put him in the number-two starting position, by defeating Paul Lee in the opening round of final eliminations. His 4.148-second, 305.70-mile-per-hour pass earned him a second-round match with Jeff Arend.
The warming track, thanks to an appearance by the sun after a storm delayed the start of racing by four hours, helped produce a pedalfest between Hagan and Arend, with the latter maintaining traction a bit longer in the run and winning the round. Hagan’s pass of 5.340 at 268.60 was not enough to catch Arend’s 4.653 at 278.52.
According to the 28-year-old Don Schumacher Racing driver, the overall Bristol experience was a positive one for the DieHard team.
“All in all it was a decent weekend,” he said. “We made a lot of progress. We had good, solid runs Friday and Saturday and then in the first round today. Tommy DeLago (crew chief) has really got a handle on this car.
“What happened in the run against Jeff happens; that’s drag racing and we are just going to stay after it!”
The qualifying sessions produced consecutive runs, under a variety of weather and track conditions, of: 4.165 at 298.87, 4.112 at 303.50, 4.228 at 294.63 and 4.082 at 308.07; he was never lower than third after any of the four rounds.
“Again, this consistency and success throughout qualifying and then the first round really shows how well Tommy and the DieHard team is doing with this car,” explained Hagan. “I know we haven’t gotten into the winner’s circle yet, but we’ll get there – and soon!”
And Hagan’s next chance to meet his goal of gaining a trophy comes in less than a week as the next, and 10th stop, on the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series moves to Norwalk, Ohio for the June 23-26 fifth annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals.
Hagan will go to Ohio holding the fifth spot in the Funny Car standings trailing Cruz Pedregon, Robert Hight, DSR teammate Jack Beckman and points-leader Mike Neff (respectively).