HAGAN MISSES SPOT IN COUNTDOWN AT U.S. NATIONALS INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 7, 2009) - Matt Hagan, a contender for the 2009 Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award as an NHRA rookie-of-the-year frontrunner, missed the final ...
HAGAN MISSES SPOT IN COUNTDOWN AT U.S. NATIONALS
INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 7, 2009) - Matt Hagan, a contender for the 2009 Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award as an NHRA rookie-of-the-year frontrunner, missed the final opportunity to place himself in the top 10 in points for the Countdown to 1 playoffs, when he lost an agonizingly close Funny Car opening round to Ashley Force Hood at the U.S. Nationals today.
The pair launched with nearly identical reaction times, but lane choice might have made a difference, as Hagan, the No. 15 qualifier in the Valvoline Engine Guarantee/shelor.com Dodge, was outrun by the No. 2 qualifier, posting a solid but losing 4.142-second pass at 300.26 mph to Force Hood's winning 4.119/309.84.
Entering today's eliminations, Hagan was tied with Robert Hight in 11th in the point standings. Both drivers had the chance to move ahead of No. 10 Cruz Pedregon. With Hagan's first-round loss, and Hight's and Pedregon's wins, Hagan lost his chance to move up in the standings. Following his semifinal round win today, Hight moved past Pedregon to assure himself a spot in the playoffs, which begin at the next race in Charlotte for the final six events. Hagan was relegated to 12th place.
"I'm really proud of all my guys," said the 26-year-old Angus Cattle farmer from Christiansburg, Va. "They really stepped up and they've been doing a fantastic job ever since the Western Swing. I know Tommy (DeLago, crew chief) has implemented some changes and they seem to really be working for this Valvoline/shelor.com team.
"We just had a really tough draw this morning. Ashley Force is tough to get around and, obviously, we didn't get around her. We have six more races left to go this year and I plan to get a Wally before the season ends. That's my goal now, to make sure we win a race. And I think that Tommy, (assistant crew chief) Glenn Huszar and this whole team can do that.
"There's a bump in the right lane here, but Tommy did a good job adjusting to that. If we had run anybody else today, it might have been a different outcome. But, that's the hand we were dealt, and we played our hand, and it didn't turn out to our favor. It's a gambling game. You just roll the dice and see what comes out.
"Unfortunately, we're not in the Countdown. I'm very, very, disheartened about that. We left it all out there on the track. We did not hold back at all. We had some missed opportunities this year which put us in the position to have to fight for a place in the Countdown.
"We just have to keep our heads up and move on to the next six races. We have a winning team, we just have to prove ourselves out there. And it'll happen. Right now it seems is not the time for it to happen."
Next up is the second annual NHRA Nationals in Charlotte, N.C., Sept. 18-20.