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Photo credit: JERRY FOSS NHRA/NATIONAL DRAGSTER
Matt Hagan affairs to be aback in his Shelor Motor Mile Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye this weekend at Charlotte.
Hagan is austere to hunt afterwards missing the aftermost two hunt weekends with COVID-19.
And alike admitting Hagan absent the U.S. Nationals and the aboriginal annular of the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs this accomplished weekend at Reading, Pa., the arresting Funny Car best finds himself appropriate in the blubbery of things. He trails 16-time best John Force by aloof bristles points—less than one annular win—in the standings, acknowledgment in ample allotment to the accomplishment of backup disciplinarian and above assistant Tommy Johnson Jr.
Johnson won at Reading, assault Force in the final no less, and according to NHRA rules apropos COVID-19-related absences, Johnson’s credibility for the accident went to Hagan.
Hagan couldn’t be added beholden to Johnson or the NHRA.
“Every bearings is different, and it doesn’t attending like COVID is activity abroad anytime in the abreast future, so it ability be article we see added of,” said Hagan, aback asked about the COVID-19 aphorism actuality acclimated by the NHRA. “I anticipate assertive bodies ability feel a assertive blazon of way about it, not absolutely into it or anything, until it happens to them. And then, they ability be like, ‘man, I’m animated NHRA instated this new rule.’
Photo credit: JERRY FOSS NHRA/NATIONAL DRAGSTER
“Up until this point it was consistently ‘the credibility go with the driver.’ So, I’m animated NHRA fabricated that aphorism because I didn’t accept that burden on me like ‘I accept to go racing, and if I don’t, my aggregation could potentially lose out on a championship because of it.’ I anticipate accepting that burden aloof puts you in a bad situation. It comes bottomward to safety. For me, it was a absolutely acceptable affair because I capital to drive, but I wasn’t accessible to drive, and this new COVID aphorism accustomed me to booty the time that I bare to get advantageous and delay until I was 100% to appear back.”
Hagan, who has 287 NHRA starts, had never absent a hunt weekend in his career above-mentioned to his absolute COVID-19 analysis above-mentioned to the U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis.
“COVID affects anybody differently, and it was article that hit me absolutely hard,” Hagan said. “It started like the flu and again aloof never got better. I had several canicule of lying in bed with a fever, chills, and aches, and assuredly concluded up accepting to analysis myself into the emergency room.
“I spent a night there accepting fluids and steroids, and they were accomplishing aggregate they could do to accompany my 104-degree temperature down. My breath was absolutely apropos to them and that’s why they kept me overnight. Once they got my oxygen up and assuredly got my agitation bottomward to about 101, they appear me from the hospital but I still wasn’t out of the woods. It still took some time for my anatomy to recover.”
Fortunately, the affliction didn’t clean him out of the championship chase.
“It was actual apricot for me watching Tommy drive my hunt car,” Hagan said. “He deserves so abundant credit. He’s such a acceptable driver. He’s accomplished additional in the apple a few times now, and I knew he would do a abundant job, but aback it’s your car, and your team, and you’re sitting their watching as a spectator, it’s tough.
“I capital to be there, but I aloof physically wasn’t ready. Missing those two contest was the appropriate affair to do. Obviously, I didn’t appetite to put anyone at risk, and alike if you took that allotment out of the blueprint and it wasn’t a factor, it aloof wouldn’t accept been fair to my aggregation because I wouldn’t accept been able to accord 110 percent. Tommy’s a abundant disciplinarian and I’m actual appreciative of my guys.
“Everyone did aggregate they bare to do to get as abounding credibility as accessible aftermost weekend. The admirers and anybody were absolutely supportive. They were acclaim for Tommy, and acclaim for our team, and it was affectionate of a bogie account with the way things alive out like we did.”
Hagan added that if he goes on to win the championship, he will accomplish abiding to booty of Johnson for pinch-hitting and accepting that win at Reading.
“Absolutely it would be a co-championship, abnormally back it was a Countdown race,” Hagan said. “Tommy put credibility on the lath for us. I achievement no one abroad has to go through this situation, but the aggregation does the assignment and the aggregation arch makes the affability calls, and they shouldn’t be short-changed because the disciplinarian gets ailing and isn’t able to race. Plus, we accept advocacy obligations to fulfill.
“If we can cull this off, I’ll be the aboriginal one to buy Tommy a (championship) ring.”
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