home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


November 20, 2014

Matt Hagan

SCOTT SMITH:  Thank you for joining us during the course of your day.  Matt Hagan and his Mopar Express Lane Rocky Boots Dodge Charger secured his second Funny Car World Championship with four wins and two runner‑up finishes this season.  He also powered to two No.1 qualifying positions.  Hagan clinched the championship with his victory over Tommy Johnson, Jr., in the semifinals in Pomona and then went on to defeat John Force in the finals for his fourth win of the year. 
This is the second Funny Car world championship for crew chief Dickie Venables, as well. 
Matt, how important or historic was this championship for you compared to your first one? 
MATT HAGAN:  Well, I think they're all special in their own way.  You know, like Tony said in his speech, each one of them tells a story.  Someone said earlier when we were having a press conference, they said, you know, well, your second one is harder to get.  They're all hard.  Every one of them are hard to get.  There's not an easy one out there.  But they're all very, very special in their own way, and I'm just tickled to death.  It finally kind of started to set in.  We partied like rock stars for the last three days and finally got back home last night about 1:30 in the morning, and it's just all kind of settling in that we won the world championship. 
It's my second one of my career, and in such a short amount of time, six years out here driving for Don Schumacher Racing and to be able to have two championship trophies from NHRA and Mello Yello sitting in your living room. 
SCOTT SMITH:  Talk about Sunday in Pomona.  It was so exciting, at least for the fans on the outside to watch the championship go back and forth, round to round.  What was it for you being inside the cockpit on Sunday? 
MATT HAGAN:  Well, you know what, all the way up until that day, I was like, man, just cool, calm, collected, let everything happen.  But you're just a nervous wreck.  There's no way around it.  As a competitor, as someone that has put everything into this, this is what you work all year for.  This is what you get up early in the morning, you go work out, you get back on a practice tree, you're talking to a sports psychologist, just everything to have the mental edge to do everything it takes to go out here and win, like I said in our press conference in Vegas.  It's just a phenomenal feeling when it all comes together, and all the hard work you put into it all year long, you've got to‑‑ I guess today is why it's soaking in because I can sit back and reflect on some of the round wins and the race wins and just all the stuff that it took us to get there to be able to win this thing. 

Q.  Matt, on the teleconference before rolling into Pomona, if I recall you were rather confident, and you shared that with all of us, I'm sure.  Talk a little bit about that confidence and obviously the result. 
MATT HAGAN:  Yeah, absolutely.  You know, confidence is key out here, and confidence in your crew chief is key.  I think that there's plenty of moments in drag racing where you can get down and out and really let that kind of eat at you and your confidence.  You know, I've just learned at an early stage of my career that I have to keep it positive.  I have to keep my guys positive.  I think that in drag racing it's like being a manic depressive.  It's the highs of highs and the lows of lows and there's not a lot of in between, and there's a lot more lows than there are highs.  Being confident in your stuff, what you've worked so hard for, knowing that you can do the job that needs to be done out there, knowing that your team can do the job that needs to be done out there, that we worked so hard for it, and it comes together, but really like I said, having that mentality, like I know how to do this, I'm a great leader, I've got a great crew chief, and it just all comes into play. 
No matter what, you know you have the best race car out there on Sunday. 

Q.  How great does it feel to have a championship now after having a struggling year in between? 
MATT HAGAN:  Yeah, absolutely.  I mean, we struggled‑‑ we led the points all year long up until John took them over in the Countdown.  Similar situation, the roles were just reversed with John this year versus his.  Dickie got sick in the middle of the year‑‑ not the middle but towards the Countdown here, and our team started to fall through, as it probably should.  Dickie is our leader on our team and he makes the decisions and calls.  But at the end result, I'm not trying to take anything away from what John did last year.  He is a, like they say, force to be reckoned with, but it's just one of those things where I know our team is good. 
I know our‑‑ just we are whole as a team.  We ate together, we drink beer together, we hang out together, we have each other's backs, and it's not just a job to these boys.  They have skin in the game.  We're family.  I have a beautiful, wonderful, magnificent family out here, at home, and I've got a family at the racetrack.  It's really, really cool for me to be able to leave my kids and children at home and be able to come out to the racetrack and feel like I have another family out here, as well. 
SCOTT SMITH:  Kind of talk a little bit about that team.  Do you see that in other‑‑ maybe within Don Schumacher racing or within other groups in the pits, a team that you feel was as close as yours this year? 
MATT HAGAN:  Well, you know, there's a lot of great teams out here, a lot of great drivers.  You know, each race is different.  Honestly, all of our teams are really, really strong.  We all have the same R&D, we all have the same stuff that we're trying to run.  I mean, right now we're getting ready for testing in West Palm in December.  We're trying to implement some new stuff into the race car. 
But yeah, they're just all coming.  Honestly the rival between me and John is where it's been the last four years, and basically my entire career me and John have been battling it out, and that's what the fans wanted to see.  They wanted to come out here and watch me and John race, and we did in the final. 
It was just nice to see the results off of that, you know. 
SCOTT SMITH:  Following your win in Chicago, that seems to be really where your team picked up.  You didn't have any first‑round losses after that Chicago event, you started to move slowly up the points, retook it following Reading.  Did you guys hit upon something at that Chicago event, or did everything all just kind of come together at once? 
MATT HAGAN:  Well, you know, at the beginning of the year we felt we were smarter than what we are and we decided we were going to try some new stuff, especially in the bell housing, and it just took three, four, five races and Dickie finally said, look, I just can't make this work and it's not going to work, it's unpredictable, so we decided to go back to our old combination.  Well, doing that, we still have different clutch disks, different rotating parts, different valve chain stuff, so it took another five, six, seven races to kind of get our feet back into the groove of where our old race car used to be that we led the points all the way up until halfway through the Countdown of last year. 
After we started kind of getting things going, that's when our momentum picked up and the clutch disks started responding to what the crew chiefs were wanting and asking the wear and all that stuff to do out there with the car.  It just all started clicking, and we started getting that confidence that we were talking about earlier back into Dickie Venables, my assistant crew chief and all my guys, including myself. 
As a driver you start having first‑round losses, you're not thinking about leaving the starting line, you're thinking about what do I got to do to get this thing to the other end of the racetrack.  So everything trickles down from confidence and having the combination that our stuff is running strong again. 
SCOTT SMITH:  You guys talked about you're going to start testing up here pretty soon.  What do you see your category next year, Funny Car, what do you kind of foresee from that category the coming season? 
MATT HAGAN:  It's going to be tough.  I know a lot of my teammates and stuff, they were running combinations that they're looking forward towards '15, and our team personally is going to go test in December, as well.  I know Capps had some combinations in there and so did Tommy, and so did Jack.  Jack had some injector stuff, and everybody was trying new things.  These boys weren't thinking about '14, they were thinking about '15.  They're already planning ahead for '15, and we've got to get on the same page.  We have to get going and make sure that we're testing the stuff that we need to to come back out here and be strong and run hard and make sure that we don't let our sponsors down and ourselves down for next year. 
I've been there where you win a championship and then you have a tough year, and I really don't see that happening next year.  We've got a great team and a great car, and I feel like we'll have another very successful season coming up. 

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297