BROWNSBURG, Ind. (June 26, 2012) - Matt Hagan can’t wait until he can put on a firesuit and helmet, hit the racetrack, floor the throttle and crush some cars.
“You know, that’s just what I might need. And I’m going to do it,” he said.
The reigning NHRA Funny Car world champion is frustrated with being ranked 11th in his DieHard Advance Gold Dodge Charger R/T, and he believes he knows how to release the tension.
“Yeah, I’ll go crush some stuff.”
The good news for his Funny Car brethren at this weekend’s NHRA Route 66 Nationals at Joliet, Ill., is that they will not be the targets of his effort to vent. His targets of mass demolition will be unoccupied vehicles on July 4 when he drives the Virginia Giant monster truck at a holiday show at Motor Mile Speedway near his home in Christiansburg, Va.
“Last year they let me start it and drive it around, but this time I get to crush stuff.”
Hagan said “crush stuff” numerous times, including in the verbiage he used when detailing his plan to crush the run of bad luck he and crew chief Tommy DeLago have endured.
The team has yet to advance past a second round through 10 races this year, but progress has been steady. Hagan qualified in the top eight two weeks ago at Bristol, Tenn., for the fourth straight race. In the second round, Hagan’s time of 4.140 seconds was quicker than two others who won in the round, but it wasn’t quick enough to beat teammate Jack Beckman’s 4.100, which was the round’s quickest.
“We’re close to breaking through,” Hagan said.
Hagan moved up one spot to 11th in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series standings after Bristol and is 45 points out of 10th place, which is the last coveted spot to qualify for the Countdown to the Championship field that will be determined after the U.S. Nationals on Aug. 29-Sept. 3 at Indianapolis.
“That’s our next step,” he said. “We’re closing in on it.”
Route 66 could help the DieHard team get back on course. Hagan won at the track in 2010 when he set the track elapsed-time record of 4.022. A year ago, he qualified No. 2 ago before being upset by Dale Creasy Jr.
He won’t be trying to break records on the Fourth of July, just car parts.
What could be next if his monster-truck driving stint is successful?
Perhaps the “wild man of cattle ranching” will try to pilot a 160-mph drag boat.
Hagan in 2011 at Route 66:
Qualified No. 2; lost in first round to Dale Creasy Jr.
Hagan’s career at Route 66:
Wins 1 (2010), runner-ups 0; poles 0
Holds track elapsed-time record: 4.022 seconds, June 2010
2012 Pts W Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
11th 0 0 0 1 4-9
2011 Pts W Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
1st 2 2 4 0 33-20
Career Titles Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
5 6 10 4 90-74
FULL THROTTLE DRAG RACING STANDINGS
(Through 10 of 23 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
driver, wins, points
1. Robert Hight (4), 892
2. RON CAPPS (2), 819
3. Mike Neff (1), 654
4. JOHNNY GRAY (1), 633
5. JACK BECKMAN (1), 621
6. Bob Tasca III, 514
7. Cruz Pedregon, 512
8. John Force (1), 472
9. Courtney Force, 462
10. Jeff Arend, 441
11. MATT HAGAN, 396
2011 ROUTE 66 WINNERS
Top Fuel: Del Worsham (Top Fuel), Mike Neff (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock), LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle)
ROUTE 66 NATIONALS NITRO SCHEDULE
Friday: 5 p.m., 8 p.m. qualifying
Saturday: 5 p.m., 8 p.m. qualifying
Sunday: 11 a.m., championship eliminations
Saturday: 6-7:30 p.m. (ET), delayed
Sunday: 6-9 p.m. (ET), delayed