Matt Hagan will race as a professional NHRA Funny Car driver for the first time in Las Vegas at the April 2-5 NHRA Nationals.

Although he has not raced as a pro in Las Vegas, he earned his Funny Car license here in late 2007 with the help of Tim Wilkerson.

NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Rookie-of-the-Year frontrunner Matt Hagan is a rookie on a roll so far this 2009 season.

Driving the Dodge Funny Car, he defeated half of John Force Racing's stable of Funny Cars (Robert Hight and Ashley Force Hood) before landing in the semifinals in the third event of the season in Gainesville, Fla., and is seventh in the point standings. Prior to Gainesville, he had only won one round of eliminations in the six pro events he had entered in his career - in the second race of 2009 in Phoenix.

The 26-year-old Angus cattle farmer is well prepared, albeit cautiously optimistic, to take on all comers as the series heads to Houston Raceway Park for the NHRA Spring Nationals this weekend.

"It's kind of a tough deal because these Funny Cars are so unpredictable," he said. "I think it's great that we've been able to do as well as we have in such a short period of time, but you can come out here and do well one race and not qualify for the next.

"I've learned in drag racing to be very, very humble. Not taking anything away from what we've accomplished as a team, but I'm going into my next race making sure that we still take each lap at a time and not get ahead of ourselves.

"I feel really confident in Tommy (DeLago, crew chief). He's got a good handle on the Dodge and I think that once we get in one or two good laps in qualifying we can show what we can do."

As of March 24, No. 7 in 2009 Funny Car point standings, as Rookie-of-the-Year frontrunner

Has one first-round, one quarterfinal and one semifinal finish so far in 2009

Entered NHRA Funny Car class four times in 2008, qualifying once at the U.S. National

2006 NHRA AMS Pro Mod Challenge Rookie of the Year

First season with Don Schumacher Racing

Won class-best three Funny Car events in 2008 IHRA series, ending season third in point standing

Born Nov. 11, 1982 in Salem, Va., lives in Christiansburg, Va.

Married to Rachel; one son, Colby (10/27/06)

Manages family 500-acre Angus Cattle farm in Virginia