He’s done that this season by posting wins at Charlotte’s Four-Wide Nationals and in New Jersey. He’s also scored runner-up finishes at Phoenix and Atlanta. His Magneti Marelli/Mopar/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger has earned two No. 1 qualifying positions as well. However a mid-season mini-slump which started at Bristol, where he lost in the second round, and continued at Epping, N.H., where he lost in the first round, has given the team a wake-up call just as the regular season is making the turn at third and heading for home plate.
“When you get knocked down, you gotta get back up,” Hagan said. “That’s what I’ve learned from the farm, that’s what I’ve learned from life. We knew there would be a point in the season where you struggle a little bit and I think we’re in it right now. But it’s about how we rebound from it.”
And Hagan knows all about rebounding from setbacks. In 2010 when he battled Funny Car legend John Force down to the wire for the championship at the last race of the season but ultimately came up short, he responded the next season with a title of his own.
He feels confident his new team has what it takes to make the win lights start turning on at Route 66 Raceway and finish out this four-races in four weeks stretch on a high note.
“It’s important to me to make sure the confidence in our pit stays high, that our morale stays high because you can’t get down out here,” Hagan said. “We’ve had a lot of success already this season, so it’s easy to get down when you’re not going rounds and when you’re not picking up the trophy.”
As a past winner at Route 66 Raceway, Hagan can gain confidence from that experience when he defeated Robert Hight in the final round at the state-of-the-art dragstrip in 2010. He also still holds the elapsed time track record at 4.022 seconds, a performance he set during eliminations in 2010.
With those positive vibes and a freshened race car, Hagan says he and his team will be ready.
“The guys are back in the shop for a couple days this week to check everything over and get ready for the next two races,” Hagan said. “Dickie (Venables, crew chief) has done such a great job already this year, and he and I are keeping our heads held high for the guys and we’ll see what we can do this weekend.”