BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 19, 2012) - A month ago, Matt Hagan just wanted to get to a semifinal round in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
But not anymore.
After the team slumped to 13th in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series standings last month, it has rallied to be within winning one round of reaching the coveted top-10 in the Funny Car standings.
The vastly improved Mopar/Aaron’s Dream Machine Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car team led by crew chief Tommy DeLago came within one round Sunday of making it to their third consecutive championship round.
Perhaps more importantly, Hagan would have reached the top-10 before the Aug. 29-Sept. 3 U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis after which the field of 10 will be set to contest for the world championship over the last six events of the 23-race schedule.
Hagan is within 19 points of 10th place and could have moved around Bob Tasca III for the spot had he defeated Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals.
Hagan had to defeat another teammate, Jack Beckman, in the second round to reach Capps, who went on to win the event title and take over the Funny Car points lead.
“We race at DSR,” Hagan said. “There are no gimmies.”
And DeLago wouldn’t want it any other way.
“No one should want to win that way,” he said. “I know we don’t; we want to earn it.”
Capps understands the feeling though he also wants Matt to join his six teammates in the Countdown.
“I want Matt to get in bad,” Capps said. “Tommy is one of my best friends but I know they want to get in the right way.”
Hagan and DeLago will get their chance at Indy.
“We’re not that far back and it is doable,” Hagan said. “We don’t wish for anyone to have a bad race we just need to have a good one.
“It was the same against Beckman. We knew we were going to go up there and race. That’s how we roll.”
The following are Hagan’s results from the NHRA Nationals at Brainerd and notes:
Matt Hagan, Mopar/Aaron’s Dream Machine Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 8
First round: HAGAN (4.097 sec., 308.14 mph) def. Jeff Arend (4.109, 309.13)
Second round: HAGAN (4.106, 305.70) def. Jack Beckman (4.278, 233.88)
Semifinals: Ron Capps (4.105, 303.71) def. HAGAN (4.290, 242.41)
Session 1: 4.152 sec., 293.60 mph
Session 2: 4.087, 304.94
Session 3: 4.103, 304.60
Session 4: 6.904, 99.21
NHRA FULL THROTTLE FUNNY CAR STANDINGS
(Unofficial through Aug. 19, Brainerd, Minn.; 16 of 23 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. RON CAPPS, 1,228
2. Robert Hight, 1,175
3. JACK BECKMAN, 1,068
4. JOHNNY GRAY, 999
5. Mike Neff, 988
6. Courtney Force, 883
7. Cruz Pedregon, 861
8. John Force, 842
9. Jeff Arend, 781
10. Bob Tasca III, 770
11. MATT HAGAN, 751
NEXT FULL THROTTLE EVENT
Aug. 29-Sept. 3, U.S. Nationals, Indianapolis
TRAXXAS SHOOTOUT VOTING
You can begin Sunday night to help DSR’s Matt Hagan and his Aaron’s/Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car into the Sept. 2 NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootout as the eighth and final entry in the special event held during the U.S. Nationals at Indy when the winner will get $100,000.
The eighth spot will be determined by a lottery drawing and the number of fan votes will be proportionate to chances in the drawing.
Hagan’s Funny Car teammates Jack Beckman, Ron Capps and Johnny Gray qualified for the Shootout by being among the first seven drivers to win event titles this season.
The Traxxas Top Fuel Shootout, contested under the same format, will be held Sept. 1 during the U.S. Nationals. DSR drivers Antron Brown, Spencer Massey and Tony Schumacher have qualified for the Shootout.