HAGAN HANGS ON TO NO. 1, BACKS UP PROVISIONAL NATIONAL RECORD IN READING MOHNTON, Pa. (Oct. 9, 2010) - Matt Hagan wowed the crowd in the final round of Funny Car qualifying for the 26th annual NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway when he...
HAGAN HANGS ON TO NO. 1, BACKS UP PROVISIONAL NATIONAL RECORD IN READING
MOHNTON, Pa. (Oct. 9, 2010) - Matt Hagan wowed the crowd in the final round of Funny Car qualifying for the 26th annual NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway when he planted the DieHard Dodge Charger Funny Car not only firmly on the pole but backed up his 4.011-second pass at 311.56 mph (both track records) from yesterday with a 4.046/308.99 for a provisional national record.
If he holds on to the national record through Sunday's eliminations, he will earn 20 bonus points. He will also break his own track record of 4.022 seconds, which he had set earlier this year when he won in Joliet, Ill. At this stage, following the qualifying rounds and counting the national record, Hagan holds a slim four-point lead over John Force entering Sunday's eliminations. Only three races remain before a 2010 Funny Car championship is crowned, including this Sunday's event.
"This is stuff you dream about out there," said Hagan, who collected his fourth No. 1 of the year, and the ninth of his short two-year full-time NHRA career. "It's just great that we have the car that's capable of coming up here and laying that kind of number down even with the sun out like that. It's a real testament to how smart (crew chief) Tommy DeLago is and how hard these DieHard guys are working.
"I was on pins and needles up there. It was just, try to do everything right to make this car go down, keep it in the groove and make it go to the other end. So, when we went through the trap I saw the mile-per-hour. I was trying to duck to see the E.T. and I couldn't see it. But the guys came over real quick on the radio and said, 'We got it done.' It was just an overwhelming feeling to be in the Countdown and I guess this evens up the points [with John Force] as for now. We still have a lot of racing to do, but, as of tonight, that's huge for us.
"We'll put this behind us after we do a little bit celebrating and focus on tomorrow.
"I have a lot of respect for John Force and the whole Force camp. He walked right over and shook my hand. He was one of the first ones to come over and say, 'Good job, kid.' That goes a long ways when you've got a guy that's been leading the points all year long [congratulating you]. He's the 14-time champion. He knows how to win and he's a good competitor."
Hagan admitted that the DieHard team was aiming for the national record in that final pass. "Absolutely," he said. "Tommy told me today, after we went .08 in the heat (in the first session) that we have a great baseline for tomorrow. He said, 'I feel very confident about what we're going to do, so, pull your seatbelt down tight because we're going to go for it this evening.'
"I thought that even if we didn't get it done this evening, I figured first round tomorrow he would probably step up. That's just Tommy's nature. He's [got] no fear, he's going to go for it, whether it's race day or qualifying. I'm tickled."
Hagan faces Phil Burkart in the opening round of Sunday's eliminations.