2013 NHRA: Matt Hagan NHRA Arizona Nationals Event Preview
Matt Hagan the race car driver became Matt Hagan the fisherman during downtime between NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events this week.
Hagan opted to stay on the West Coast after last weekend's NHRA Winternationals at Pomona, Calif., instead of flying home to Christiansburg, Va. He spent Tuesday afternoon fishing with friends near Phoenix. For Hagan, it's all about slowing down when he's not behind the wheel of his 10,000-horsepower Mopar/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car.
"I love doing anything outdoors," Hagan, a cattle farmer, said after a successful day on the water. "It's just fun to chill out and do something outdoors and have a little break from the otherwise fast paced life I live."
Hagan, who was able to test some new Rocky boots and apparel while fishing, hopes he's as successful on the track at Firebird International Raceway near Phoenix as he was on the water.
After a solid first outing for the team last weekend in the season-opening NHRA Winternationals at Pomona, Calif., Hagan hopes to build on the team's top-10 qualifying effort and quarterfinals finish at Pomona.
"We just need more laps under our belts," Hagan said of his team led by crew chief Dickie Venables, who was hired by Don Schumacher Racing on Feb. 1.
"Our guys have had a total of six laps together, and they're still learning how to work together. The only way we're going to get more laps is to keep racing and winning so I'm definitely ready to crawl back in this Mopar/Rocky Funny Car."
With the first event in the books, Hagan said any nervous jitters are out of the way for his team.
"I think Dickie was relieved to get that first weekend out of the way. He's got a little bit of data on his own now and a lot of data from the past so we'll take that to Phoenix and see what we can do."
With 2013 already off to a better start than the previous season, Hagan only has high hopes things will continue to get better.
"I look at it this way, we're one race in and already have our first round win under our belts. Sometimes getting that first one can be the toughest and we've already accomplished that."
After winning the 2011 NHRA Funny Car world championship, Hagan's team lost in the first round of last season's first three events and were unable to qualify for NHRA's Countdown to the Championship playoff.
2013 Pts Races Titles Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
6th 1 0 0 0 0 1-1
Career Races Titles Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
97 5 10 10 4 111- 88
MATT'S CAREER BEST TIME, SPEED
3.995 seconds (Sept. 2011, Charlotte), 322.27* mph (Sept. 2011, Charlotte)
* fastest ever in Funny Car
MATT AT PHOENIX
A year ago, qualified No. 4 and lost in first round to Todd Lesenko.
Career: Wins 0; runner-ups 0; poles 0
LAST WEEK AT POMONA
DSR's Tony Schumacher in the U.S. Army dragster advanced to the Winternationals championship round of Top Fuel where he lost a close race to Shawn Langdon of Al-Anabi Racing; Ron Capps put the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T into the final round but lost traction and Courtney Force of John Force Racing produced the quickest run of the weekend. ...
In an unplanned test of the strength and safety of DSR-built Top Fuel Dragsters and innovative enclosed safety canopy, reigning world champion Antron Brown walked away unscathed from a horrific crash at nearly 300 mph that destroyed his Matco Tools dragster. Brown will be at Phoenix with an all-new car and eager to run in Friday's first qualifying session.
THIS WEEK AT FIREBIRD
WHAT: 29th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals
WHERE: Firebird International Raceway, south of Phoenix
Friday: Qualifying, 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m.
Saturday: Qualifying, 1 p.m., 3 p.m.
Sunday: Championship eliminations, 11:30 a.m.
Sunday: Qualifying, 1 a.m., 8 a.m. (ET)
Sunday: Championship eliminations, 8 p.m. (ET)
Friday: High 63; 0 percent chance of rain
Saturday: High 69; 0 percent chance of rain
Sunday: High 64; 0 percent chance of rain
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES
(After 1 of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. Courtney Force, 124
2. RON CAPPS, 94
3. JOHNNY GRAY, 76
4. Bob Tasca III, 71
5. Gary Densham, 60
6. Cruz Pedregon, 56
7. MATT HAGAN, 52
8. Todd Lesenko, 51
9. JACK BECKMAN, 43
10. Del Worsham, 38