2013 NHRA: Matt Hagan Carlyle Tools NHRA Carolina Nationals Qualifying Report: No. 2
Being near home is good for Matt Hagan. But being near home and performing well for dozens of his family and friends makes it a little sweeter for the driver of the Rocky Boots/Mopar Funny Car.
Hagan, whose home is in Christiansburg, Va., just two and a half hours from the zMAX Dragway facility in Concord, N.C., earned the No. 2 qualifier spot on Friday night under the lights at the Carlyle Tools Carolina NHRA Nationals with a 3.992-second pass at 320.58 mph. It was Hagan's second sub-four second pass at the facility near Charlotte and third of his career.
Crew chief Dickie Venables tuned Hagan to four qualifying passes ranging from 3.99 to 4.10 seconds in various weather conditions on Friday and Saturday.
"It's a home race for me," Hagan said. "We're here to put on a show for all of these people. I've got hundreds of folks that I know here. We're qualifying well. That just builds our confidence. That's what this team has done all year long. I think that will help us here in the Countdown. "
Hagan, the top seed in NHRA's Countdown to the Championship, gained a little bit more on the nine drivers chasing after him earning bonus points in all four qualifying sessions for having with one of the three quickest runs.
"The Countdown is kind of pressure free right now. I guess it feels that way because we've been there before. Dickie has won it, I've won it. I think your first one is probably the hardest to get and we've already done that. I've never seen anyone do well when they put extra pressure on themselves.
"I just feel cool, calm and collected about this. We're going to have some bumps along the road but we've got six races and we're still growing as a team. I feel like it's ours to lose, I feel like we have a great team and they're doing a great job. We're not going to do anything different from what we've been doing all year long."
Hagan and the Rocky Boots/Mopar Funny Car team have won four titles this season in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series including 4-Wide Nationals earlier this season at the track.
"We're getting those little (bonus) points in each qualifying session and we just need to turn on some win lights on Sunday. I just feel good. It's not that I don't have any pressure, there's always pressure but I just feel good. I want to win it for these guys. It's been a great year already and we've got six more chances to get another Wally."
No. 1 qualifier: Cruz Pedregon (Cruz Pedregon Racing), 3.980 sec., 319.22 mph
MATT HAGAN, Rocky Boots/Mopar Dodge Charger R/T
Provisional qualifying position: No. 2
First round opponent: Jeff Arend
Session 1: 4.085 sec., 309.84 mph
Session 2: 3.992, 320.58
Session 3: 4.105, 309.63
Session 4: 4.082, 310.48
CARLYLE TOOLS CAROLINA NATIONALS presented by NAPA
Sunday: Noon, championship eliminations
ON ESPN (times are ET)
Saturday: 11:30 p.m., qualifying, ESPN News, delayed
Sunday: 8:30 p.m., championship eliminations, ESPN2, delayed
Sunday: High 81 degrees; 0 percent chance of rain
MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES
NHRA Countdown to the Championship Standings
(Unofficial through Saturday at Charlotte; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. MATT HAGAN 2,154
2. RON CAPPS 2,112
3. JOHNNY GRAY 2,102
4. John Force 2,096
5. JACK BECKMAN 2,082
6. Cruz Pedregon 2,081
7. Courtney Force 2,066
8. Tim Wilkerson 2,058
9. Robert Hight 2,048
10. Del Worsham 2,034
2013 FUNNY CAR WINNERS: C. Force, CAPPS, GRAY, C. Pedregon, HAGAN, C. Pedregon, GRAY, GRAY, HAGAN, J. Force, C. Force, HAGAN, GRAY, C. Pedregon, CAPPS, HAGAN, CAPPS, Hight.