KENT, Wash. (Aug. 5, 2012) - Some if not all had written off Matt Hagan’s chance of getting into the NHRA Countdown to the Championship a few events back when his Aaron’s Dream Machine couldn’t get past the opening round of eliminations.
But Hagan and his Don Schumacher Racing Dodge Charger R/T tuned by Tommy DeLago have recaptured the magic they used to win two of the last six titles a year ago to earn the NHRA Funny Car World Championship.
Hagan drove to the championship round of an NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series for the second consecutive Sunday before losing to rookie Courtney Force for the title of the NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways near Seattle.
It was Force’s first NHRA Funny Car title.
“Every guy worries about losing to a girl but I don’t at all,” Hagan said. “She’s a great driver and doing a heckuva job. She’s driving the wheels off that thing.”
In the championship round, Force recorded a 4.238-second run at 293.54 mph to Hagan’s 4.328 (276.58) that allowed her to overcome a much quicker reaction time by Hagan.
Hagan moved up one spot to 11th in points and trails No. 10 Bob Tasca III by 42 points and No. 9 John Force by 49.
“We still have to a lot to make up,” Hagan said. “We’re getting there. We’re doing what we need to do. We have to keeping winning rounds and the momentum is there.”
Two events remain before the top-10 in points are determined to advance to the Countdown to the Championship that is contested over the last six events of the 23-race Full Throttle series.
Each round won in eliminations is worth 20 points.
Hagan started Sunday 12th in points and 91 points out of the 10th spot.
“I’m just tickled to death to go some rounds today and have some fun doing it,” said Hagan, who qualified No. 5. “That’s the biggest thing you have to look at. We’re having fun again. It’s been a very humbling season so far, and we have a lot of making up to do.
“You do appreciate it more now when you get a chance to run for the trophy.
“I feel for my guys because they did the same amount of work the last two races as the guys on the winning teams, and we haven’t gotten there. But that’s just racing. We have to keep a positive attitude and keep this rolling.
“We have great guys and we are still a championship team.
“It was just a matter of time until Tommy got a handle on it again. We’re all human and sometime we question ourselves.
“I’m not disappointed in this weekend or last weekend.”
The next event is Aug. 16-19 at Brainerd, Minn., which will be followed by the Aug. 29-Sept. 3 U.S. Nationals near Indianapolis after which the Countdown field will be set.
Event winner: Courtney Force, John Force Racing
No. 1 qualifier: Ron Capps, DSR, 4.119, 298.47
Matt Hagan, Aaron’s Dream Machine Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 5
First Round: HAGAN (4.181 sec., 297.88 mph) def. Jeff Arend (4.383, 255.19)
Second Round: HAGAN (4.268, 280.08) def. Johnny Gray (5.865, 125.47)
Semifinals: HAGAN (4.410, 231.28) def. Ron Capps (5.328, 159.61)
Championship round: Courtney Force (4.238, 293.54) def. HAGAN (4.328, 276.58)
NHRA FULL THROTTLE STANDINGS
(Through Kent, Wash., 15 0f 23 events; DSR drivers in CAPS; * clinched spots in Countdown)
1. *Robert Hight, 1143
2. *RON CAPPS, 1112
3. *JACK BECKMAN, 1003
4. JOHNNY GRAY, 942
5. Mike Neff, 933
6. Courtney Force, 851
7. Cruz Pedregon, 803
8. Jeff Arend, 749
9. John Force, 746
10. Bob Tasca, 739
11. MATT HAGAN, 697
VOTE4HAGAN.COM AND TRAXXAS SHOOTOUT
Shirley Muldowney joins Vote4Hagan.com campaign
The most famous name in NHRA drag racing has endorsed the candidacy of Matt Hagan in his race to get into the Sept. 2 Traxxas Nitro Shootout.
“If it’s for Matt Hagan I will crawl on my hands and knees over broken glass,” said Shirley Muldowney, the most successful woman in motorsports history and most famous drag racer of all time.
Muldowney, winner of three NHRA Top Fuel world championships, has adopted Hagan as her favorite racecar driver.
“Something about what Matt brings to our sport is so different from what anyone else has brought into this sport,” she said. “I have never had a hero in any sport I looked up to until I met Matt. He’s the most handsome man I’ve ever met, but he could be a 99-year-old man. It doesn’t matter to me, because he is just a special, special man.”
Muldowney said she became enamored with Hagan after she began listening to his interviews since he became a full-time professional Funny Car driver for Don Schumacher Racing in 2010.
That’s why she wants to see Hagan pull enough votes between Aug.19-28 at Facebook.com/nhra to enhance his chance of getting into the Shootout by having his name drawn in a weighted lottery at noon on Aug. 29 at Monument Circle in Downtown Indianapolis to kick off the Aug. 29-Sept. 3 U.S. Nationals held over Labor Day weekend.
The U.S. Nationals holds a special place in Muldowney’s heart. She won the prestigious Top Fuel title in 1982.
She appreciates Hagan for more than his good looks and driving skills that led him to the 2011 NHRA Funny Car world championship.
“He is an excellent, excellent driver. That goes without saying,” she said. “But what makes him to special is that he’s down to earth and a wonderful family man. He is wonderful to everybody, and he shows he has feelings for people. He warms my heart.
“There are only two pictures of racers in my office: one is Dale Earnhardt that he signed ‘to Shirley, I’m a big fan,’ and the other is of Matt Hagan.”
The first seven spots in the eight-car Shootout, which will pay the winner $100,000, went to the first seven winners of NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event this season. The eighth and final spot will be selected in a lottery-style drawing where drivers’ chances of having their names drawn will be determined by the percentage of votes each receives on Facebook.com/nhra.
HAGAN ACROSS AMERICA
The “Vote 4 Hagan Across America” campaign continues through Aug. 28 when fans can go to Facebook.com/shoeracing or ShoeRacing.com to download and print a special Hagan campaign poster. Then you can take the printout to a special place in your locale that shows scenery or a landmark to take a photo of it then post it at Facebook.com/shoeracing.
An expert DSR panel will select the 10 best family-suitable entries. Those selections will be announced on Aug. 28, and each will receive a 2012 Matt Hagan 1/24th-scale diecast collectible of his Aaron’s Dream Machine Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car.
Entries will become part of a photo album at Facebook.com/shoeracing.
Full-size posters for $10 can be purchased this weekend at the Don Schumacher Racing merchandise trailer on the midway during the NHRA Northwest Nationals at Kent, Wash., and at the DSR website store at ShoeRacing.com.