There’s work to be done this week for Matt Hagan and it doesn’t include his Mopar/Rocky Boots Funny Car. He has chores at home on his cattle farm in rural Virginia.

Home for Hagan is an escape from the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series scene. It’s where he can reflect, relax and rejuvenate his mental game. And that’s exactly what he’s doing prior to the 29th annual NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa.

With three of six Countdown to the Championship playoff races complete, the Mopar team is clinging to the points lead in the Funny Car class by six points over 15-time champion John Force. Led by crew chief Dickie Venables, Hagan has a runner-up finish and two quarterfinal finishes in the past three events.

Entering the fourth consecutive event on the NHRA tour, Hagan wants to be sure that he and his nine other team members have the right mindset.

“I’m looking forward to Reading,” Hagan said. “I think it’s going to be cool conditions there and there’s going to be an opportunity to run fast and there may even be a world record set there like we saw last year so that’s pretty exciting.

“But honestly, my thoughts are I get a couple of days at home and the last thing I’m going to think about is the race car. I’m just out here on the farm, doing my thing. Trying to get some square bales put up for some horses and I’m pretty involved in this farming part of my life.”

For Hagan, who has eight final round appearances with four event wins this season, it’s a well-deserved mental break for the 30-year-old farmer and racer.

 

“I think sometimes after this much racing, this many events in a row, sometimes you need to take a deep breath and stop thinking about it (racing). As hard as it is to do, it’s probably one of those deals where we know we have a good race car and we know how to run it, I know how to drive it and the guys know how to put it together so worrying about it or the points is not going to be productive.

 

“I told all of my guys to take a deep breath this week and chill and when we get to Reading we’ll put our game face on and go racing. We need to let everyone else worry about the points. We are still the points leaders and we can win this thing.”