Hagan carries positive attitude into weekend's Topeka Summer Nationals
Matt Hagan foresees a turnaround in the fortunes of the DieHard Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, which he hopes begins this weekend by going deep into the 23rd annual NHRA Summer Nationals here at Heartland Park Topeka.
According to the 28-year-old Don Schumacher Racing driver, the Tommy DeLago-led team has reverted to previous setups to capture the magic which propelled the then-sophomore racer into the runner-up spot for the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car championship.
“We’re running the same combinations as we did last year,” Hagan explained. “Tommy has a good handle on it and this is especially important for the hot-weather tracks, like Topeka, which can be real tricky.”
The team, which finished last season strong, including setting, then breaking the sport’s elapsed-time record, has been frustrated by not repeating a final-round appearance like it attained in the first race of 2011 at Pomona.
Hagan said the recent changes made by DeLago and on-track performance, including a quarterfinals appearance last week at the NHRA Southern Nationals, has the team thinking positive thoughts.
“It’s all about confidence,” said the cattle farmer from Christiansburg, Va. “We have to keep our heads up and our chins up and get back into it. We know what this DieHard Funny Car is capable of doing; it can win races – and we will.
“Tommy’s an animal crew chief – and I mean that he goes after it on the track. I like being aggressive and Tommy gives me that kind of race car.”
Hagan’s results after six races find him holding fifth place in the Funny Car standings. He trails Mike Neff, DSR teammate Jack Beckman, Robert Hight and Cruz Pedregon (respectively) in the quest to be first by the end of the 16-race “regular” season in preparation for the six-race Countdown to 1 playoffs.
“We’ll be there when it counts,” he said. “And good things will start this weekend.”