Matt Hagan Reaches Finals In Mopar Mile-High Nhra Nationals
Matt Hagan, driver of the MOPAR Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, dropped a final-round match with reigning NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car Champion John Force during today’s 24th-annual MOPAR Mile-High NHRA Nationals here at Bandimere Speedway.
Starting from the third position, the Don Schumacher Racing driver made four clean passes on the day, but fouled at the starting line (beating the green light by .012 seconds) against Force, negating a 4.328-second pass at 274.83 miles per hour (Force posted a 4.361-second lap at 285.23 mph).
“I don’t know what to say except it was my fault,” explained the chagrined Hagan. “We had him – Tommy (DeLago, crew chief) and the MOPAR/DieHard guys did a great job all weekend giving me a competitive car despite the difficult conditions – and I just didn’t get the job done.
“I can’t remember ever red lighting before and this was not the time to do it.”
The runner-up finish solidified Hagan’s hold on fifth place in the Funny Car standings – he increased his lead on Jeff Arend by 29 points which equates to just over one race-round win.
“Okay, that’s done and we’ll put it behind us,” he said about the disappointing finish. “We have to pick it up and get ready to race again in five days. No excuses; we just have to bear down and get that first victory.”
Today’s win by Force, his first of the season, means last year’s two nitro-champions have now recorded 2011 victories, while the two runners up – Hagan in Funny Car and Tony Schumacher in Top Fuel – are still looking for their first 2011 trip to the winner’s circle.
“I know Tony, who also lost in the finals today, wants that win and is doing everything to get it, just like we are,” he said. “We’ve both have cars capable of winning and have advanced to final rounds; we just have to close the deal.”
This was Hagan’s second runner- up finish in 2011, having opened the season with a final-round appearance in Pomona, Calif.
By: don schumacher racing