SONOMA -- NHRA star Matt Hagan seems to have found the perfect balance in his life.
After spending his weekends with his adrenaline pumping at deafening racetracks, the Funny Car points leader finds peace and quiet in his other profession -- cattle ranching.
Hagan, who enters Sunday's NHRA Sonoma Nationals eliminations as the No. 1 qualifier, says tending to his 1,000-acre Virginia ranch keeps him calm and humble.
"I needed a release," said Hagan, who drives the Rocky Boots/Magneti Marelli Dodge Charger. "I needed something so you don't go back and go crazy thinking. This farm stuff is kind of therapy for me. I love what we do out here (on the track) and our fans, but on the farm it's just me. It's just
The serenity of the ranch was especially welcome for Hagan last year after he failed to defend his 2011 Funny Car championship title. It was such a tough year that Hagan didn't even qualify for the Countdown to the Championship, finishing 11th in the point standings.
He's rebounded nicely this season with a new crew chief and team, posting three victories already.
Hagan stole the show Friday at Sonoma Raceway with his blazing qualifying run of 3.986 seconds, going under four seconds for the second time in his career. In 2011, he became the first ever Funny Car driver to dip into the three-second-plus range.
He was thrilled to do it again with his new team, headed by crew chief Dickie Venables.
Hagan actually tested before the season with a different crew chief, but his owner made a last-minute change to Venables. The team was so new that it hadn't even tested together before the season-opening race in Pomona.
"We rode into Pomona and were drawing straws to see who was going to do what on the race car," Hagan said. "For us to have so much success this year has been very, very cool. For some reason this group is just really clicking this year."
On Sunday, Hagan will be trying for his first win at Sonoma. He will take on Alexis DeJoria and his former crew chief, Tommy DeLago, in the first round.
The Australia native posted a track record time of 3.765 seconds on Friday and figured he'd be able to hold onto the No. 1 position when the fog burned off late Saturday morning in Sonoma, making for a warm track and slower speeds.
"Unless we had an overcast day and we didn't have any sunlight and the track temperature stayed down, there was a high probability that run would stick," Grubnic said. "We're thrilled to bits we're number one."
Smith, who won at Sonoma in 2007, posted a best time of 6.838 seconds.
The top qualifier in Pro Stock remained the same from Friday night. Mike Edwards, who leads the point standings, didn't improve on his Friday time of 6.526 at 212.23 mph but still earned his 11th No. 1 qualifying position this season.