Matt Hagan Captures Second Starting Spot For NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals
Matt Hagan described the Bristol Dragway surface as being smooth as silk after blasting the DieHard Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car into the second starting spot for Sunday’s 11th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals here.
The 28-year-old Don Schumacher Racing driver’s 4.082-second lap at 308.07 miles per hour in today’s final qualifying session temporarily put him at the top of the pack before Bob Tasca III’s 4.056-second run moved him down a rung on the eliminations ladder. Even so, he was excited by his performance.
“Tommy DeLago (crew chief) is an animal and is getting this DieHard car dialed in,” Hagan said. “He has put an incredible race car underneath me and I just had to do my job in the cockpit.”
Hagan will take on Paul Lee in the first round of final eliminations, scheduled to begin at noon ET, in front of a large rooting section.
“This track is only a couple of hours from home,” said the Christiansburg, Va., native and resident. “It’s been great doing so well in front of so many family and friends so far this weekend, to be able to put on a good show, but Sunday is when it counts.
“I love how well we did today and yesterday (where he never placed below third after any qualifying round), but anyone who qualifies can win, so we’ve just got to keep on getting the job done tomorrow like we have so far.”
Hagan opened qualifying on Friday with a first-round best 4.165 at 298.87 mph, followed by a night-session run of 4.112 at 303.50. Today, in the heat of the afternoon, the DieHard team turned a 4.228-second lap at 294.63 before the stout last run, which followed a long rain delay.
“The track and weather conditions changed drastically after the storm,” he explained. “And Tommy really figured it out. He will go for the throat – and that’s a great thing! Now we just have to go four rounds on Sunday and claim a Wally.”
The runner up in the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car championship heads into the Bristol Dragway race holding fifth place in the standings and looking for his first victory of the season.