HAGAN GETS BACK TO FUNNY CAR WINNERS CIRCLE
Matt Hagan’s mini slump is over.
Hagan, a two-time nitro Funny Car world champion driver (2011, 2014), broke out of his funk with a victory at the NHRA Toyota Nationals Sunday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Hagan clocked a 3.942-second lap at 392.42 mph to defeat Courtney Force’s 4.020-second run at 320.05 mph.
“These Funny Cars are finicky, sometimes they love you and sometimes they rip your heart out and step on it,” Hagan said. “We just got in a little bit of a rut and we had to work and make big wholesale changes and dig ourselves back out and it is a testament to Dickie Venables and my crew to what they can do and how far they can come and bounce back. We had some pretty bad first-round losses earlier in the Countdown and you lose hope sometimes, but then you have to get your pom poms out and make sure everybody is up.”
Hagan, who was driving the Pennzoil Dodge Charger for Don Schumacher Racing, won his fourth race of the season and his first since Epping, N.H., on June 4.
“I just can’t say enough about Dickie,” Hagan said. “The guy is one of the smartest crew chiefs out here and I’m just blessed to have him in our corner. There’s no replacement for the feeling of winning. That’s a fix you can’t get anywhere else. Sometimes it takes a little struggle to put things back in perspective of how special it (winning) is.”
This was Hagan’s inaugural win at Las Vegas and his 26th career win and he leaves Las Vegas fifth in the point standings, 161 points behind leader Robert Hight. The season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals will take place Nov. 9-12.
Hagan’s victory parade Sunday was comprised of wins over Gary Densham, Del Worsham, Jack Beckman and Courtney Force.
“(Sunday) was a pretty chill day,” Hagan said. “My crew chief was confident that he had a pretty good handle on the tune-up and I just wanted to get up there on the wheel and cut some good lights and keep it in the groove. What we get to do is pretty intense, pretty incredible and there’s just no replacement for it.”