BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Aug. 28, 2012) - Matt Hagan will face the most dramatic and longest week of the season once he arrives Wednesday in Downtown Indianapolis to start the NHRA U.S. Nationals.
Suspense begins two days before he makes his first qualifying run Friday night at Lucas Oil Raceway.
The first chapter for the driver of Don Schumacher Racing’s Mopar/Aaron’s Dream Machine Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car is Wednesday at Monument Circle when he learns at the NHRA Fanfest if his name is selected to compete in Sunday’s NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootout.
The first seven drivers in the Shootout are the first to win Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event titles this year, and the last position will be decided by lottery at Fanfest and set the field for the race for a $100,000 bonus.
That will be followed by five qualifying runs Friday night through Sunday afternoon to determine the driver’s for Monday’s 16-car Full Throttle eliminations field and the race to win the most coveted Wally trophy of the season.
And on Labor Day, Hagan and crew chief Tommy DeLago will find out of a remarkable comeback over the last three Full Throttle events is enough to help propel them into the top-10 when the regular season ends after Indy and the Countdown to the Championship field is set for the last six events of the 23-race season.
“I’m just glad we still have a fighting chance to go out there and do this,” Hagan said of getting into the Countdown. “We still have a big hill to climb. It’s just a matter of getting out there and making big plays and stepping up to the plate and trying to knock it out of the park. But things have got to line up, too.”
Hagan is 19 points behind Bob Tasca III in 10th place while 12th-place Tim Wilkerson is nine out of 10th. Rookie Alexis DeJoria is a longshot but can rally from 13th to 10th.
“You can’t change what other people do, you can only control what you have available in front of you, and that’s what we have tried to focus on,” said Hagan, whose Dodge has advanced to a pair of championship rounds and a semifinals in the past three events.
Hagan hopes his soap opera season takes a positive turn on Wednesday by getting into the Shootout.
“I’d rather be one the seven drivers who got in by winning a trophy this season, but it has meant a lot to me when fans have come up and said they want to be in it. If we get in great, that’s a lot of cash. But we’re going to Indy to win the biggest Wally trophy of all and get locked into the Countdown so we have a chance to defend our championship.”
MATT HAGAN, Mopar/Aaron’s Dream Machine Dodge Charger R/T
2011 at Indy: Qualified No. 4; lost in semifinals to Mike Neff
Career at Indy: Wins 0, Runner-ups 0, Poles 0
Pts Races Wins Rup Poles DNQ Win/Loss
2012 11th 16 0 2 0 1 12-15
Career 88 5 8 10 4 98-80
NHRA FULL THROTTLE FUNNY CAR STANDINGS
(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
TRAXXAS NITRO SHOOTOUT – FUNNY CAR
Sunday (12:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m.)
First-round pairings: 1. RON CAPPS vs. No. 8 fan vote/lottery; 2. Robert Hight vs. No. 7 Jeff Arend; 3. JACK BECKMAN vs. No. 6 John Force; 4. JOHNNY GRAY vs. No. 5 Mike Neff
U.S. NATIONALS FULL THROTTLE NITRO SCHEDULE (all times ET)
WEDNESDAY: NHRA Fanfest, public press conference and autograph session, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Monument Circle, Downtown Indianapolis
FRIDAY (Aug. 31): Big O Tires Don Schumacher Racing Open House for Riley Hospital, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.; Nitro qualifying, 7 p.m.
SATURDAY (Sept. 1): Nitro qualifying, 3:30 p.m., 7 p.m.
SUNDAY (Sept. 2): Nitro qualifying, 12:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m.
MONDAY (Sept. 3): Eliminations, 11 a.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. (ET), delayed
Sunday: 5-7 p.m. (ET), delayed
Monday: 12-6 p.m. (ET)
THIS FRIDAY – DON SCHUMACHER RACING OPEN HOUSE
The seventh annual Big O Tires presents the Don Schumacher Racing Open House is Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will feature each of the seven DSR drivers, an indoor car and bike show, Cacklefest with the legendary “Jungle Jim” Funny car, “330-mph Art & Technology” exhibits and Silent Auction to benefit Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health and Camp Riley.
The annual Open House and other DSR functions have raised more than $175,000 for Riley Hospital.
The event is free to the public.
Silent auction items range from 50-inch HD, flat panel television provided by Aaron’s to the actual front end from Matt Hagan’s Aaron’s Funny Car that was featured worldwide on the Internet and television news programs after the car exploded earlier this season at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s zMAX Dragway.
The technology aspect of the Open House will allow visitors for the first time to tour the DSR CNC Machine Shop that includes high-tech machinery used to manufacture more than 200 components used on DSR Top Fuel Dragsters and Funny Cars.
The DSR 8,000-horsepower supercharger dynometer also will be operated at various times throughout the day.
DSR is located at 1681 E. Northfield Drive in Brownsburg about 4 miles west of Lucas Oil Raceway.