MORRISON, Colo. (July 25, 2012) – A first-round loss Sunday near Denver nearly wiped out the chances for Matt Hagan and crew chief Tommy DeLago to defend the NHRA Funny Car championship they won last season for Don Schumacher Racing.
But that doesn’t mean the Aaron’s Dream Machine Dodge Charger R/T team is throwing in the towel.
“You know, it is what it is,” Hagan said. “This season so far has been disappointing but it isn’t for a lack of trying by our Aaron’s team. Sometime you just don’t get the breaks.”
That was apparent when Hagan lost in the opening round Sunday of the Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in the Rocky Mountains.
He lost by a few inches at the end of the 1,000-foot race when Kalitta Motorsport’s Jeff Arend’s time of 4.320 seconds (293.41 mph) edged Hagan’s 4.327 (286.38)
Arend’s margin of victory was 0.0004 – that’s four ten-thousandths of a second that translated to only a few inches on the track.
“That was soooo close,” Hagan said. “It would have been fun if I was watching in the grandstands or if our Mopar won, but losing a race like that is not fun.”
The team has moved on to Northern California for this weekend’s NHRA Sonoma Nationals near San Francisco for the second stop on the grueling Western Swing that encompasses three straight weekends of racing and four in five weeks. After Sonoma, the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads north to Kent, Wash., then after a one-week break races at Brainerd, Minn.
“Three weeks on the road is tough,” said Hagan, who opted to remain with the team instead of flying cross country each week to his home in Christiansburg, Va. “It’s hard enough if you’re winning rounds, it’s even harder when you aren’t.”
Hagan’s team fell to 4-12 in championship eliminations and hasn’t gotten past the first round for three consecutive races. The team remains 13th place in Full Throttle standings and 152 points outside of the 10th position, which is held by John Force.
The top-10 drivers after the 17th event, which is the Aug. 29-Sept. 3 U.S. Nationals near Indianapolis, advance to the six-race Countdown to the Championship that closes the season.
“We won’t give up on the Countdown until somebody tells me it’s impossible for us to get into the top-10,” Hagan said. “And even then our Aaron’s team will never quit trying to get better and win.
“We have 10 more Full Throttle races left and that means we have a shot at winning 10 trophies. That’s our goal. We don’t give up; we never will.”
The Vote4Hagan.com campaign kicked off in a big way at Denver and continues this week near Seattle.
The campaign is to get Hagan the most votes between Aug. 19 and 28 on NHRA’s Facebook.com page so he will get the eighth and final spot in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout that will be on Sept. 2 during the prestigious U.S. Nationals when the Shootout winner will get $100,000.
Campaign buttons and stickers were distributed and campaign signs were seen around Bandimere Speedway.
The on-line campaign commercial was featured on the Saturday qualifying broadcast on ESPN2. You can watch the video on YouTube.com at http://youtu.be/3V7PR4wJD88
Keep checking at Vote4Hagan.com, ShoeRacing.com or Facebook.com/shoeracing for upcoming campaign contests and giveaways.
MATT HAGAN: Aaron’s Dream Machine/Mopar Dodge Charger R/T
Career at Sonoma: Wins 0; runner-ups 0; poles 1 (2009)
2011 at Sonoma: Qualified No. 7; lost in first round to Cruz Pedregon.
2012 Pts W Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
13th 0 0 0 1 4-12
Career Races Titles Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
86 5 6 10 4 90-77
NHRA FULL THROTTLE FUNNY CAR STANDINGS
(unofficial through July 22; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. Robert Hight, 1,060
2. RON CAPPS, 994
3. Mike Neff, 863
4. JACK BECKMAN, 862
5. JOHNNY GRAY, 766
6. Courtney Force, 701
7. Cruz Pedregon, 680
8. Jeff Arend, 661
9. Bob Tasca III, 654
10. John Force, 643
11. Tim Wilkerson, 573
12. Alexis DeJoria, 494
13. MATT HAGAN, 491
SONOMA NITRO SCHEDULE
FRIDAY: 4, 7 p.m., qualifying sessions
SATURDAY: 12:30, 3 p.m., qualifying sessions
SUNDAY: 11 a.m., championship eliminations
SATURDAY: 7-9:30 p.m. (ET), delayed
SUNDAY: 7-10 p.m. (ET), delayed