BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Oct. 11, 2017) - Matt Hagan isn't afraid of a battle and he knows that's what his Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T team faces this weekend at the NHRA Fallnationals at Texas Motorplex near Dallas.
The team led by crew chief Dickie Venables and assistant Michael Knudsen enter this weekend's Fallnationals fourth in Funny Car points standings, more than 150 points behind leader and Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps.
Hagan knows they'll need a little more than hard work to chip away at the lead.
"Obviously we have to be a little lucky and extremely good these next three races," said Hagan, a two-time Funny Car champion. "There's not much room for error. We're six rounds back with three races to go and you have a team like Ron Capps and those guys leading, they just seem to go rounds on Sunday.
"It's one of those things, you're in a tough situation and you have to make some stuff happen here in the next three races. This race is kind of a make or break for us. If we don't go some rounds or win this race, it's pretty much the nail in the coffin. Pomona has points and a half so it's still there but it's going to be tough."
But no matter what, you won't see Hagan giving up. Especially this weekend at the Motorplex where the team scored the event title last year over Capps in the final round.
"The thing about me is I don't ever want to give up," Hagan said. "I come back from a run and it blows the tires off and I pedaled it seven times when I probably should've pedaled it four. The guys ask me why I pedaled it so many times and I say because the other guy hasn't crossed the finish line yet. It ain't over. That's my mentality. And you have to have that. It's not over 'til it's over. We just have to fight hard and see where things land.
"It's going to be a Pennzoil race for us and I'm coming in early to do spend time with them. I'm just looking forward to it. I love racing this racecar and I'm just looking forward to getting in there and doing what we do."
It has been a challenging year off the track for Hagan and now crew chief Venables, who lost his mother, Nedra, last week.
"Unfortunately Dickie's mother passed away recently and he's going to have that on his mind. Our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family. I understand all about that. This year has been a tough year as far as that goes. I lost my grandfather and my brother this year. I get it.
"I still want to get up on the wheel and drive. I know that he'll be ready to tune this thing. We all have a lot of stuff going on in our lives and hopefully we can all come together and focus and do big things in Texas."
MATT HAGAN, Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: Dickie Venables; Assistant: Michael Knudsen
Last event: Sept. 29-Oct. 1: Qualified No. 8, lost in second round to Robert Hight
A year ago at Dallas: Qualified No. 4, won in championship round over Ron Capps
Career at Dallas: Wins 2 (2010, 2016), Runner-ups 1 (2012) , Poles 0
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2017 4th 21 3 1 7 5 5 4 0 34-18
CAREER 213 25 23 35 67 61 30 4 299-184
Career best time, speed: 3.799 (2017, Indianapolis); 338.85 mph (2017, Topeka)
COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
(Official standings through St. Louis; 21 of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. RON CAPPS (8) 2395 -----
2. Robert Hight (3) 2349 -46
3. Courtney Force 2287 -108
4. MATT HAGAN (3) 2238 -157
5. JACK BECKMAN (2) 2228 -167
6. John Force (1) 2197 -198
7. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 2191 -204
8. J.R. Todd (2) 2168 -227
9. Tim Wilkerson 2130 -265
10. Cruz Pedregon 2096 -299