POMONA, Calif. - Matt Hagan's reign as the NHRA Funny Car world champion ended in the first round of eliminations Sunday in the Auto Club NHRA nationals that closed his 2012 Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season.
"Man, it was just a disappointing season," said Hagan, whose team did not win an event title this year. "It wasn't for lack of hard work from our crew and (crew chief) Tommy DeLago. We just didn't have it."
The first-round loss at the season-finale matches the team's performance in the season-opener at Pomona.
The team struggled through the first 13 events and only advanced to the second round four times during that span.
But it made a hard charge over the next four races by advancing to two championship rounds and two semifinals.
In the Countdown, the team advanced to the final round twice during the six-event playoff.
"This team never quit, and that run we made proves it," said Hagan, who finished 11th in the final standings.
"You have ups and downs in life and racing, and how you respond to the downs is what builds character.
"I can't explain how hard it is to win just one of these event titles let alone a championship."
But Hagan promises to be back in 2013 ready to challenge for another championship.
Matt Hagan, Mopar/Aaron's Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 13
1st round: Courtney Force (4.055 sec., 318.02) def. HAGAN (4.081, 304.87 mph)
Session 1: 8.279 sec., 79.89 mph
Session 2: 4.100 sec., 308.50 mph
Session 3: 6.946, 99.66
Session 4: 4.574, 180.89
Don Schumacher Racing