Don Schumacher Racing press release
PRESSURE NOT AN ISSUE FOR MATT HAGAN AT THIS WEEKEND’S BIG O TIRES NHRA NATIONALS
LAS VEGAS, October 23, 2011 – Sitting less than a round out of first place heading into this weekend’s 11th-annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals here, the second-to-last race of the season, does not mean additional pressure for Matt Hagan as he prepares to drive the DieHard Advanced Gold Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car down The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
According to Hagan, who trails Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman by five points in the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship standings, “I don’t feel any extra pressure this week than I do on any race day. I am very confident in Tommy DeLago (crew chief), my team and myself. I just have to do my job, driving the car to the best of my abilities. I could bite my nails all day long and at the end of the day, what do you have – a hand that hurts; it won’t do you any good in the race car.
“Each one of my guys on the DieHard/Rimco team has to do their jobs as they’ve done all year. The pressure is on the crew chiefs to figure out the tracks and the weather. Again, I have all the confidence in Tommy – he’s gotten us here!”
Hagan began the six-race Countdown in sixth place, 70 points off the lead. He has already gone around three other drivers while making up 65 points in the first four playoff contests.
“We have a very competitive team and we’ll do all right,” said the 28-year-old Christiansburg, Va. native. “Nobody’s going to hand this thing to you; you have to work hard and earn it.”
Hagan was the runner up at last year’s race here to take the points lead into the season’s finale, finishing second in the championship when 15-time-winner John Force won the Pomona race.
“Every year is different; you learn from your successes and your mistakes,” Hagan said discussing how the 2010 finish prepared the DieHard/Rimco team for this year’s playoffs. “You try to pull from the knowledge you’ve learned along the way and use the previous situations to prepare yourself. We learned a lot about this sport during last year’s Countdown and during this season so far – and I think we’re a better team for it!
“You never know what’s going to happen. If at the end of the day you can look in the mirror and say I did all I could do, then you can go to bed and sleep well.”