Columbus resident back on track, wins title at U.S. Nationals

Although he grew up drag racing, Ryan Haag cut his schedule way back after getting married, buying a house and having a kid in the past four years.

But this year, Haag had a change of heart. He decided to get his 1967 Camaro ready for the U.S. Nationals, which were held Labor Day Weekend at Lucas Oil Raceway in Clermont.

The Columbus resident is glad he did. He won seven consecutive races to capture the Superstock division.

“We worked on the car quite a bit this year and got it going faster, and going up there, you always feel like you have a good shot to win,” Haag said.

But Haag barely made it to the 128-car playoff qualifying 124th. He then won four rounds on Sept. 4 and three on Sept. 4 to take the title.

In the finals, Haag got off with a .006-second light and posted a 9.821 on his 9.81 prediction. Sean Cour had a .071 reaction time and and trailed Haag to the finish line, even though he ran right on his dial with a 9.497.

“Once you win the fourth round on Sunday, and you get to Monday, that’s when it sinks in that you really have a shot,” Haag said.

Haag, a Memphis, Indiana, native, grew up in a racing family. His father David won 1990 Gatornationals in Gainsville, Florida, and has had the 1967 Camaro since 1974.

At age 15, Ryan Haag won the Eastern Conference Finals at Bristol in 2004. The Eastern Conference Finals are the equivalent of the U.S. Nationals for Junior Dragster racing. After that win, he was interviewed by ESPN in the shutdown area.

Ryan Haag began driving superstocks in 2006. His first win in that category came in 2010 at the NHRA Lucas Oil series event in Joliet, Illinois.

That year, Haag finished third in points. He also won class (superstock performance-based heads-up, first to finish) at the U.S. Nationals in 2008 and the NHRA Sports Nationals in 2011 in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Haag has finished second twice and third once in the past three years in Superstock-Stock combo at Bowling Green. He is sitting second this year with one race to go the last weekend in October.

“It’s always in your heart to spend every dime you have on drag racing,” Haag said. “You have to do what you can do without putting yourself in a bind because it is a very expensive sport.”

But this year, Haag had some vacation time and had the financial ability to do some work on the car and get it faster to where he could qualify for nationals. Winning the championship was a huge payoff.

“It took a good week, but it’s finally sinking in now that I won the U.S. Nationals at the age of 28,” Haag said.

Ryan Haag

Name: Ryan Haag

Age: 28

Hometown: Memphis, Indiana

High school: Silver Creek

College: Ivy Tech in Sellersburg

Residence: Columbus

Occupation: General manager for Fastenal in Greensburg

Family: Wife Ashley, daughter Braelyn

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.