Matt Hagan is the 2-time NHRA FC world champion driving the Sandvik Coromant Dodge Charger R/T Powered by Pennzoil funny car. The 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car standings reflects how great of a year Hagan and his crew have had – just halfway through the season they sit in second place, only behind fellow DSR teammate Ron Capps by a few points.
It's safe to say that Hagan was just as thrilled to stop by the Sandvik Coromant offices as staff was to meet him. "I'm learning a lot about machining and the technology behind the tools. But, just getting to meet the people is what's so cool. There's just so many folks out there doing awesome things. To get to come out here and meet the people that help make it happen every day and sponsor the [race] car is really great."
During Hagan's visit, we took some time to ask him a few questions:
Last time DSR was here we learned about how DSR machines its own components. What's your confidence level knowing that you machine your own tools?
These cars are 11,000 horsepower and actually hold the world record at 338 MPH in 3.8 seconds. Things happen very fast, and to surround yourself with parts and pieces that you think are the best is huge. I trust my guys with my life, and I trust our parts and pieces with my life. It takes everyone to do their part, but it also takes good companies like Sandvik [Coromant] to support the racecar and make it go as fast as we can. We're basically driving a rocket ship, which is a cool deal but there's also a safety factor. You crawl in that racecar knowing that you're surrounded by the best and you're as safe as you can be. That's huge.
R&D is in Coromant's DNA, and we like to say that innovation is crucial. How does DSR push the envelope in innovation and doing new things?
I think 330 MPH speaks for itself as far as pushing the envelope. I've been able to drive the fastest thing ever on wheels, so we push everything to the max. Innovation is key, and so is being able to stay one step ahead of our competition. It comes down to surrounding yourself with great people. You can have all the great pieces and parts in the world. The folks that program our stuff and run the machines allow us to be able to win.
How do you mentally prepare for a race?
These cars are extremely fast. It's an adrenaline driven sport – it's intense. You have to be focused, mentally ready and prepared. I talk to myself in the car a lot. It's all about positive reinforcement. Telling myself things like leave on time, turn the light on, that sort of stuff. Plus, I have to be focused because no one wants to hit anything at 300 mph. Staying mentally focused and physically fit is important.
After his visit Hagan continued on to two jam-packed race weekends, the first in Englishtown, NJ, and the second in Bristol, TN. Hagan walked away from both races empty handed, but after making it to the finals in Bristol, the team feels confident about the rest of the season.
Sandvik Coromant is a long-time technical partner of Don Schumacher Racing, supporting the team with tooling, engineering process assistance and machining optimization for components like connecting rods, cylinder heads and other key parts.
For more information go to www.shoeracing.com or www.nhra.com