Hagan builds momentum at Madison for final three NHRA events

MADISON, Ill. - Matt Hagan was trying to make something happen Sunday for the DieHard/Aaron's Dream Machine Funny Car team.

But he might have tried a little too hard when he left the starting line too early and was disqualified with a red light and lost to Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis.

A week ago, Hagan was runner-up to Bob Tasca III near Dallas. "I was just antsy," Hagan said. "We've been to a couple of finals now and I was just trying to make something happen."

Matt Hagan
Matt Hagan

Photo by: Michael C. Johnson

Hagan didn't have an easy road to the final with stout tune-ups by crew chief Tommy DeLago.

In recent weeks, the Dodge Charger Funny Car has shown strong performances and today was no different.

After qualifying third, Hagan ousted Jim Head in the first round with a 4.08-second run.

Hagan then defeated teammate and Countdown to the Championship points leader Ron Capps in the second round before beating Tim Wilkerson in the semifinals.

"That's just how it goes," Hagan said. "Our guys have been working so hard and I'm really proud of how this team has turned our season around lately. I was really just trying to give them a little something to show for it, and I may have tried a little too hard."

It is Hagan's fourth final of the season and the seventh consecutive race the team has been to the semifinal or further.

Hagan will have three more opportunities to earn one of the NHRA Full Throttle Wally trophies before the season concludes in November at Pomona, Calif. The reigning Funny Car world champion would like this year's first title to come next week at Reading, Pa.

"We need to win, we want to win. It's one of those deals these guys just work so hard and they deserve it.

"We have to get that win before the year is up. The car is running strong. I think that we'll get it together. I was probably trying just a little too hard up there."

The following are Hagan's results and other event notes.

Event winner: Jack Beckman
No. 1 qualifier: Beckman 4.049 sec., 308.85 mph

Matt Hagan, DieHard/Aaron's Dream Machine Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 3

Round 1: HAGAN (4.086 sec., 304.32 mph) def. Jim Head (DQ, red light)

Semifinals: HAGAN (4.137, 299.46) def. Tim Wilkerson (4.197, 291.14)
Final: Jack Beckman (4.132, 306.53) def. HAGAN (DQ, redlight)

Session 1: 4.141 sec., 293.28 mph
Session 2: 4.061, 305.42
Session 3: 4.132, 291.2
Session 4: 4.115, 300.40

After third of six events in the Countdown to the Championship
(Unofficial through Sept. 30, 2012; DSR drivers in CAPS)

1. RON CAPPS 2,361
3. Mike Neff 2,262
4. Cruz Pedregon 2,202
5. Tim Wilkerson 2,197
6. Courtney Force 2,180
7. Robert Hight 2,179
8. JOHNNY GRAY 2,149
9. Jeff Arend 2,148
10. John Force 2,143
11. MATT HAGAN, 1,018

Oct. 4-7, NHRA Nationals, Reading, Pa. (Philadelphia area)
Oct. 25-28, Big O Tires NHRA Nationals, Las Vegas
Nov. 8-11, Auto Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, Pomona, Calif.

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Head , Ron Capps , John Force , Cruz Pedregon , Tim Wilkerson , Jack Beckman , Jeff Arend , Don Schumacher , Robert Hight , Matt Hagan , Bob Tasca III , Mike Neff , Courtney Force
Article type Race report
Tags beckman, capps, don schumacher, gateway, hagan, madison, nhra, st. louis, tasca