HAGAN HANGS ON TO NO. 1 IN SONOMA SONOMA, Calif. (July 25, 2009) - Matt Hagan, a contender for the 2009 Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award as an NHRA rookie-of-the-year frontrunner, hung on as the Funny Car class low...
HAGAN HANGS ON TO NO. 1 IN SONOMA
SONOMA, Calif. (July 25, 2009) - Matt Hagan, a contender for the 2009 Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award as an NHRA rookie-of-the-year frontrunner, hung on as the Funny Car class low qualifier through the final two rounds of qualifying today at the FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals.
Driving the shelor.com Dodge for Don Schumacher Racing, Hagan collected his first career No. 1 and faces No. 16 qualifier Cruz Pedregon in the opening stanza of Sunday's eliminations. This is an important round, as Hagan stands 10th in the points, while Pedregon is in 11th. Only the top 10 in the rankings vie for the championship in the final six events of the season in the Countdown to 1 playoffs.
Following his two Friday passes of 4.213/287.78 and 4.068/307.51, earning him the pole, today's attempts produced a 4.236/293.47 and a 4.195/294.75 (third quickest of the round).
"It's huge right now," said Hagan, a 26-year-old Angus Cattle farmer from Christiansburg, Va. "I'm not so much worried about being Rookie of the Year as I am about getting into the Countdown so we can try to run for a championship.
"To be able to qualify No. 1 is a big stepping stone in my career, and, for the team it's something that has boosted their morale. The shelor.com guys rolled into the pits this morning and had big smiles on their faces. I think everybody kind of knew it was going to stick.
"We just went up there and wanted to go down the race track today. We did that in all four laps."
As for the weather changes between the cool, almost cold, conditions last night to today's hot temperatures, "Last night my crew chief (Tommy DeLago) was running back and forth, back and forth, getting information from Lanny (Miglizzi, DSR's track consultant) about the track," said Hagan. "You just get to see how smart these crew chiefs are, to be able to make adjustments that quick. To watch those guys work is pretty amazing sometimes.
"Made big changes and then they come back this morning and it starts to warm up and a lot of people didn't think it would get this warm. For us it was more of a race-day setup. It's supposed to be a little bit warmer tomorrow. We went down the track, so it's definitely a positive for us.
"Our match-up against Cruz is going to be huge. It's kind of make or break right there. If we can win that round and go several rounds after that I think that will put us where we need to be to get in this Countdown.
"There's going to be a lot riding on the first round, but I'm going to try not to think about that. I'm just going to race my race tomorrow. The biggest thing with that is just stay focused on your lights and make it go to the other end. It doesn't matter who's beside you."