Rookie contender Hagan set for season start
Pomona, pre-race: Don Schumacher Racing newcomer Matt Hagan is eagerly anticipating the start of his first full season in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series at this weekend's NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Calif.
Driving the BrakeSafe Rear-End Collision Avoidance System Dodge Funny Car tuned by crew chief Tommy DeLago, Hagan is a contender for Rookie-of-the-Year honors and is ready for the challenge following successful test sessions in West Palm Beach, Fla., and Phoenix.
"It feels great to be going to Pomona this weekend," said Hagan, the 2006 NHRA AMS Pro Mod Challenge Rookie of the Year. "We have a great team together and it makes me feel confident going into the first race.
"We've had some successful test sessions. But what might look good today could change tomorrow. So, we'll just keep our fingers crossed and hopefully go into this race with open eyes and see what happens. We’ll take it lap by lap and make sure we do what we need to do to get down the race track.
“Obviously, our goal is to qualify for every race,” he added. “You kind of set goals for yourself whenever you embark on new ventures. What I would like to accomplish at this first race is to qualify, and after we get into the field it will be anybody's ballgame. I've won from No. 16 before. You have to be there on Sunday to be able to play to have a chance to win."
Is being top rookie at Pomona high on his list? "I'm really not going to be thinking about anything other than trying to concentrate on the groove and making sure to get a feel for the race car," he responded. "I think the rest of it will come, and if we do well that will fall into place.
"We're going to try to have a relaxed atmosphere in Pomona, do our best on the track, and try to promote BrakeSafe Rear-End Collision Avoidance System. We want to get everybody dialed into what this product is and how it can become available to them."
DeLago was named crew chief on the BrakeSafe Funny Car following a stint as assistant crew chief to Johnny West on the Valvoline/MTS Dodge. "Tommy can do anything he puts his mind to," said Hagan. "This guy is super-bight and I'm very, very thankful to have him on this race car. We're going into this season with our heads down and try to do the best we can and that's all we can do. Hopefully it will all turn in our favor."
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