2013 NHRA: Matt Hagan AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals Qualifying Report: No. 1
Matt Hagan picked up a career-best fifth No. 1 qualifying position of the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series during qualifying for the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park.
Hagan's 4.001-second lap at 320 mph during Friday night qualifying held through Saturday's two qualifying sessions at the facility near St. Louis. Crew chief Dickie Venables also tuned Hagan to the quickest lap of the first session on Friday, picking up six bonus points in qualifying.
"Dickie and (assistant crew chief Michael Knudsen) they were like 'Let's go put a 3 on the board' and you get in the car and your eyes get as big as saucers," Hagan said of his Friday night run. "It's still a phenomenal feeling; just having the opportunity to go out there and try to run a 3 is pretty cool, especially here in St. Louis. They have a great track and we had great conditions."
On Saturday, Venables and assistant Knudsen were able to push the limits of the Gateway Motorsports Park dragstrip and gain precious data to use toward Sunday's eliminations.
"(Friday) was where we set ourselves up to where we needed to be and today we come out and worked on a race day set up. Today we missed it a little bit earlier when it was hot out but I have all of the confidence in the world in Dickie Venables. He's going to do a great job tomorrow and we'll do our best to turn on four win lights and hold up that Wally at the end of the day."
By qualifying No. 1 and earning bonus points, Hagan and the Mopar/Rocky Boots team extended their lead to 63 points ahead of No. 2 ranked Cruz Pedregon.
"My mentality is to just come out here and drive this race car and do what we know how to do. You can't ever relax out here. It helps, obviously, to have a cushion there," Hagan said of having a three-round lead over Pedregon.
"I'd rather have the cushion than not, but it's tough to lead. It's easy to chase, but it's tough to lead. Anyone that's ever led will tell you the same thing. Everyone is after you and gunning for you so you have to bring your 'A' game and that's the good thing about this team, we bring our 'A' game every weekend."
No. 1 Qualifier: Matt Hagan, 4.001 sec., 320.20 mph (track record time, speed)
MATT HAGAN, Mopar/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T
Qualifying position: No. 1
First round opponent: Daniel Wilkerson
First session: 4.112 sec., 301.43 mph
Second session: 4.001, 320.20
Third session: 5.362, 135.69
Final session: 4.092, 315.64
MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES
NHRA Countdown to the Championship Standings
(Unofficial through Sept. 28 through St. Louis qualifying; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. MATT HAGAN 2,316
2. Cruz Pedregon 2,253
3. John Force 2,250
4. Robert Hight 2,248
5. JACK BECKMAN 2,232
6. RON CAPPS 2,205
7. JOHNNY GRAY 2,187
8. Courtney Force 2,182
9. Tim Wilkerson 2,122
10. Del Worsham 2,102
2013 REGULAR SEASONS: C. Force, CAPPS, GRAY, C. Pedregon, HAGAN, C. Pedregon, GRAY, GRAY, HAGAN, J. Force, C. Force, HAGAN, GRAY, C. Pedregon, CAPPS, HAGAN, CAPPS, Hight.
2013 COUNTDOWN WINNERS: Hight, C. Pedregon
(Times are CT)
Sunday: 11 a.m., championship eliminations
(Times are ET)
Sunday: 1 a.m., qualifying, ESPN News, delayed; 3:30 a.m., qualifying, ESPN2, delayed
Sunday: 8:30 p.m. (ET), championship eliminations, delayed
Sunday: High 77; 20 percent chance of early morning rain