Don Schumacher Racing press release
MATT HAGAN QUALIFIES FOURTH FOR 57TH-ANNUAL U.S. NATIONALS
INDIANAPOLIS, September 4, 2011 – Matt Hagan today qualified the MOPAR/DieHard Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car fourth for the 57th-annual U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil here at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.
The 28-year-old Don Schumacher Racing driver jumped from the 11th to the third slot with a 4.071-second blast at 309.13 miles per hour in today’s first (and the fourth overall) qualifying round. Hagan will take on 13th-qualifier Tim Wilkerson in the first round of final eliminations which begin at 11 a.m. EDT.
“I feel great,” he said after three days and five rounds – unique for the U. S. Nationals, premier event on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule – of qualifying. “Tommy (DeLago, crew chief) stepped on it today when the weather turned cool and we had a terrific run (to second at the time).
“We took a shot at the top spot in the final round knowing we were well into the field and smoked the tires. It doesn’t matter, because we’ve got good information about the track and the conditions should be even better tomorrow.”
The outcome of this race will determine the Countdown to 1 playoff roster as the top-10 drivers in the Funny Car standings will compete in a six-race playoff beginning at the next race in Charlotte, N.C. Hagan sits fifth in the standings, trailing Mike Neff, Robert Hight, DSR teammate Jack Beckman and, in fourth place, Cruz Pedregon, who is the top qualifier for this race.
“We’d like to move up in the standings, to improve our position as the Countdown begins,” said Hagan about the playoffs for which the participating drivers’ points are reset. “And it’s not simply trying to catch Cruz; we want to keep ahead of (DSR teammate) Ron Capps, who’s breathing down our necks (less than a race-round win behind in sixth).
“The higher we are in the standings when the Countdown begins, the better; but first, we have to take care of business and do everything to get into the Indy winner’s circle.
“We hope tomorrow is a long day for us. We want to go rounds; to turn on the win light several times and get to the money round.”