With DieHard on board as primary sponsor of the Dodge Charger Funny Car he drives for Don Schumacher Racing, and with the continuing support of shelor.com, Matt Hagan is aiming for a victory at this weekend's 50th annual NHRA Winternationals.
No longer a rookie, the 27-year-old Angus Cattle farmer from Christiansburg, Va., has his first national-event win in his sights, as he prepares for his second entire NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season.
"After last year, you had to really sit down and think to yourself and do some soul searching," said Hagan, who was winless in 2009 but had reached two final rounds and qualified No. 1 twice. "To go to 24 races and make about 100 laps during the year and not come out with a win was disheartening, but we got really close.
"In the off season I had to step back and look at what I could improve on and what I can make better this year. It's tough to be away from your family, even though they support everything you do, so I just had to make a commitment to myself this year to come out with a great attitude and a big desire to win.
"I know with the quality of team that we have it's very, very possible. Don Schumacher knows how to put a winning team together. He's done it for his son Tony six years in a row. (Tony Schumacher has seven overall Top Fuel championships.)
"Don kept everybody on our team together for this year and that says a lot because we all know each other, we're all growing together, I'm learning from them and they're learning from me. And that goes a long way when you have the same people around you who have the same confidence in you as you have in them. But, I tell you, there's still a lot to learn in these cars and I know we're going to be learning every lap.
"I'm really looking forward to the new season. I've been training real hard at home, running and weight-lifting. My goal is to win the first race. I'm sure everybody's goal is that, but we didn't get it done last year. I know we'll get it done several times this year.
As for no longer being a rookie: "I guess saying you're a rookie is great when you mess up," said Hagan, "so hopefully we don't mess up too many times this year and we won't have to worry about that. I know I learned a lot last year running with the veterans out here. They sure can handle racecars and I'm learning to do the same thing. And having DieHard on the car this year is another motivator for us to win every race."