Sonoma: Matt Hagan final report

HAGAN MAKES SURPRISE EARLY EXIT IN SONOMA SONOMA, Calif. (July 26, 2009) - Matt Hagan, the No. 1 Funny Car class qualifier for the FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals, made a surprise early exit today in the opening round of eliminations when he fell...

HAGAN MAKES SURPRISE EARLY EXIT IN SONOMA

SONOMA, Calif. (July 26, 2009) - Matt Hagan, the No. 1 Funny Car class qualifier for the FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals, made a surprise early exit today in the opening round of eliminations when he fell to No. 16 qualifier Cruz Pedregon.

Hagan nailed Pedregon at the starting lights with a .101 reaction time to Pedregon's .142 (.000 is perfect), but, despite a straight path down the 1000-foot track to record a 4.234-second elapsed time at 295.59 mph, it was no match for Pedregon's winning 4.164/295.53.

The 26-year-old contender for the 2009 Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award as an NHRA rookie-of-the-year frontrunner, dropped to 11th in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series point standings, six markers out of the top 10. Only the top 10 in each category will compete in the Countdown to 1 playoffs, which begin following the U.S. Nationals on Labor Day weekend for the final six events.

"Right now, I feel a little disheartened," said Hagan, who earned his first pole position of his young NHRA pro career. “It was a big opportunity for us and we should have capitalized on it. It's kind of how this season has been going for us. We seem to do well in spurts and then we back-pedal a little bit.

"To go up there as the No. 1 qualifier to race the No. 16 qualifier and lose was very disappointing for me and the whole shelor.com team. But, everybody out here is tough. Cruz has been struggling this season and for him to step up in the first round like that was a real shocker.

"We just have to come back strong and continue to try to go rounds. We'll figure it out. We have a strong team with a good group of guys and a smart group of guys. No one will work harder than these guys and (crew chief) Tommy DeLago to get us back in the top 10.

"The shelor.com Dodge went down the race track every lap this weekend and, because of that, we went into the first round with a good deal of confidence. We had a good race, but it just wasn't our day. Not taking anything away from the race car. It's a fast race car and we've proven that in qualifying. We just have to have it come together for us on race day."

Next up is the NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minn., Aug. 14-16.

-credit: dsr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Cruz Pedregon , Matt Hagan