Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Performance sprouts for Hagan, Mopar Funny Car team in time for young cattle farmer's hometown race at Bristol

Matt Hagan has been making hay, literally, and expects to plant that agricultural strategy onto asphalt as well as the fertile soil on his Christiansburg, Va., cattle farm that produced a bounty this spring.

The 29-year-old driver of the Mopar/Aaron's Dream Machine Funny Car with crew chief Tommy DeLago are cautiously optimistic approaching this weekend's NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway in Tennessee.

The Don Schumacher Racing team acknowledges this has not been the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season it expected after harvesting the prestigious NHRA Funny Car world championship last season.

But the Mopar Dodge Charger R/T has made steady progress over the past three events and no place would be better for the team to plow past the second round for the first time this year than at what Hagan considers his home track.

"I'm only about 100 miles from Bristol and I know I'm going to have some family and a lot of friends out there this weekend," Hagan said. "We just want to do good for them."

The phrase "making hay while the sun shines" refers to cutting hay when it's not saturated with rain and heavy. In drag racing parlance, for Hagan, this weekend is the time "to make hay" with another big move as the team continues to make progress with its performance.

Although Hagan's team failed to qualify for one of the first nine Full Throttle events and has advanced to the second round only three times, his qualifying time of 4.035 seconds two weeks ago at Englishtown, N.J., was his best of the season and earned the No. 5 qualifying position.

Hagan lost in the second round but for the first time this year he qualified in the top-seven three straight races.

"Folks might be getting tired of me saying this but we are so close to turning the corner," he said. "We still have a problem dropping (engine) cylinders, but on the 4.03 all eight kept firing and you can see what the result was.

"We're getting there. Tommy's closing in on it."

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