Reigning Nitro Jam Top Fuel champions turn heads in Vegas with runner-up finish LAS VEGAS, Nev. (November 1, 2010) -- Just three weeks ago the Lagana family was celebrating in victory lane at Virginia Motorsports Park after older brother Bobby...
Reigning Nitro Jam Top Fuel champions turn heads in Vegas with runner-up finish
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (November 1, 2010) -- Just three weeks ago the Lagana family was celebrating in victory lane at Virginia Motorsports Park after older brother Bobby Lagana Jr. wrapped up his first career Nitro Jam Top Fuel championship after a dozen years of nitro racing.
Now it is younger brother Dom's turn to step into the spotlight as the 25-year-old New York native took on and defeated many of the best Top Fuel racers in the world and ended the day with a runner-up finish at the recently completed Las Vegas Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
"The whole weekend was a blur. To be in a final when you really aren't supposed to be, that is just an incredible feeling," Lagana said. "When we won the first round we were thrilled with our weekend and were ready to call it a success. Then we won another round and the mood started to change, people started thinking 'what if' and then when we beat Antron (Brown) to move into the finals it kicked in that we really might pull this off."
Dom, behind the wheel of the Big O Tires Top Fuel Dragster, qualified 11th of the 26 Top Fuel machines trying to make the field and from that spot went three rounds on his way to a runner-up finish to Tony Schumacher in only his fifth career NHRA start.
"Just to qualify was awesome, but to keep winning rounds, it is hard to explain what that means for a team like ours," Lagana said. "Usually we don't make it past the first or second round and from there we walk around the pits and watch all the other teams service their cars. On Sunday we were that team servicing the car while everyone else watched. All afternoon you kept hearing cars warming up between rounds and by the end it was just us and Schumacher. We serviced our car, heard Schumacher warm up, and then it was our turn. It was eerie to be one of the last cars left standing."
Dom, driving the same dragster older brother Bobby Lagana Jr. recently drove to a series best eight Nitro Jam victories on his way to the 2010 Top Fuel championship, defeated Clay Millican, Larry Dixon and Antron Brown before losing to six-time defending champion Schumacher in the finals.
"We were pretty excited to run against Clay first round because of the history between us racing all those years with the IHRA. We set the car up for a nice, clean run and when we got by him it was just awesome. Our day was made," Lagana said. "Then we went against Dixon who is leading the points so we just went out there to put on a show and make another solid, clean run and when I left the line I didn't see him the whole way.
"When I got to the finish I looked over and I saw a little of his car and I thought that this had to be a close race. I thought I heard Bobby yelling, but I wasn't sure. When I got to the top end and they told us we won my legs started shaking and I had a hard time standing when I got out of the car.
"When we got around him I thought 'enough is enough, we have had our share of luck for the day.' When we finally lined up alongside Antron we had some confidence and to be honest I never saw him once. The cool thing about that win was coming back to the pits. As we drove down pit road all of the other racers were clapping for us and cheering us on. That really meant a lot to us."
In the final round Schumacher ran a 3.845, 316.60 to Lagana's 3.987, 274.39 at the NHRA-shortened 1,000 foot mark. While Lagana wasn't able to cap off his stellar weekend with a win, he was more than pleased just to have the chance to run Schumacher in the final and give his team a big boost during their long trip west.
"It didn't really hit me how big this was until I pulled into the staging lanes. When I rounded the bend and saw two funny cars and Schumacher as the only cars I started freaking out. I thought I was going to be sick," Lagana said. "I thought about how big this was for our team and what all I needed to do on the track. I didn't want to red light or do something stupid, but after a while I began to calm down and I just focused on making the run.
"It was an incredible weekend as a whole and I just have to thank everyone on the team on an outstanding job. Everybody did great and there were no mistakes all day long. It was surreal."
From Nitro Jam champions to NHRA finalists, it is safe to say that in the world of Top Fuel drag racing there is no team hotter than the Lagana family's "Twilight Zone" race team.