BRISTOL, Tenn. (June 17, 2012) – Matt Hagan and the Mopar/Aaron’s Dream Machine qualified strong for Sunday’s championship eliminations in the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.
With crew chief Tommy DeLago’s choice of lanes for the opening round earned by qualifying sixth, Hagan and his Dodge Charger R/T eliminated two-time NHRA Funny Car world champion Cruz Pedregon.
But when Hagan, the reigning Funny Car champion, moved to the second round the cattle farmer from nearby Christiansburg, Va., gave up lane choice to Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman’s 4.072-second run in the opening round, which was the second quickest of the round.
The match-up between last season’s top-2 Funny Car drivers went to Beckman. Although Hagan was nine-thousandth of a second quicker leaving the starting line, Beckman’s Valvoline NextGen Dodge produced a run of 4.100 (310.70) to Hagan’s 4.140 (299.40).
Compounding Hagan’s frustration about not winning a second-round race this season was compounded by his 4.140 being the third quickest among the eight cars in the second round.
“I’m really getting tired of saying our Mopar/Aaron’s team is close to turning the corner,” he said. “But I still believe that.
“We had four solid qualifying runs and two good ones, especially that 4.09 on Friday.
“If we have to lose it least it was to a teammate who had the best car in qualifying and his time against us was the best of the round.”
Hagan’s next race is the NHRA Route 66 Nationals in two weeks at Joliet, Ill. Hagan won the Joliet race in 2010.
Event winner: Ron Capps of Don Schumacher Racing
MATT HAGAN, Mopar/Aaron’s Dream Machine Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 6
First round: HAGAN (4.134 sec., 308.00 mph) def. Cruz Pedregon (4.883, 161.12)
Second round: Jack Beckman (4.100, 310.70) def. HAGAN (4.140, 299.40)
Session 1: 4.204 sec., 293.03 mph
Session 2: 4.096, 307.79
Session 3: 4.158, 300.20
Session 4: 4.258, 247.93
FULL THROTTLE FUNNY CAR STANDINGS
(Unofficial through Bristol; DSR drivers in CAPS)
DRIVER, WINS, POINTS
1. Robert Hight (4), 892
2. RON CAPPS (2), 819
3. Mike Neff (1), 654
4. JOHNNY GRAY (1), 633
5. JACK BECKMAN (1), 621
6. Bob Tasca III, 514
7. Cruz Pedregon, 512
8. John Force (1), 472
9. Courtney Force, 462
10. Jeff Arend, 441
11. MATT HAGAN, 396
June 28-July 1, Route 66 NHRA Nationals, Joliet, Ill.