ENNIS, Texas - Matt Hagan and the Aaron's Dream Machine/Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car advanced to its third championship round Sunday in the last six events. The other three in that span were trips to the semifinals.
"That's great, but it doesn't matter because we're not in the Countdown," a disappointed Hagan said after losing a chance to win the team's first title of the year.
The team just missed qualifying for the 10-driver Countdown to the Championship two weeks ago and lost a chance to defend the NHRA Funny Car world championship it won a year ago.
Bob Tasca III is another driver expected to be in the Countdown but also didn't make it.
Ironically, Hagan faced Tasca for the title Sunday in the Texas AAA NHRA Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex near Dallas.
They both lost traction early and smoked their tires. Hagan was able to regain control first and led when he hammered the throttle and the blower belt on the supercharger came off to basically kill his engine's power.
Tasca reached the finish line first in 4.826 seconds at 197.59 mph to Hagan's 5.025 (188.15).
"It shook the tires fast, but I pedaled it and then it kicked the blower belt off," Hagan said. "I had to watch him cruise by.
"If the blower belt hadn't come off I think we'd have gotten the win light. That's how it goes. (Crew chief) Tommy DeLago has done a really good job coming on in the later part of the season."
But the sting of disappointment wasn't lessened by making it to another final.
"For Aaron's, Mopar and DieHard it's really cool that we went to another final," Hagan said. "It's great to be going rounds, but we really need to make it count when we get opportunities to race for the trophy. I can't help but feel like we gave it away up there.
"I just feel for my (crew) guys. They did as much work today that the guys did who won, but my guys aren't celebrating and smiling. It's disheartening. We'll keep digging deep and hopefully get a win before the year's up.
"The opportunity to win only comes along so many times."
Hagan, who qualified No. 7, beat John Force in the first round and Tim Wilkerson in the second. In the semifinals, Hagan was paired with teammate and points leader Ron Capps.
In one of the closest races of the day, Hagan's 4.203 (293.03) was two-hundredths of a second better than Capps' 4.220 (288.09).
The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series competes this weekend near St. Louis.
Source: Don Schumacher Racing