HAGAN ENDS 2010 NHRA SEASON AS CHAMPIONSHIP RUNNER-UP POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 14, 2010) - Matt Hagan came out of a tension-filled, emotionally-exhausting NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif., as the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Funny Car ...
HAGAN ENDS 2010 NHRA SEASON AS CHAMPIONSHIP RUNNER-UP
POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 14, 2010) - Matt Hagan came out of a tension-filled, emotionally-exhausting NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif., as the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Funny Car runner-up to now 15-time world champion John Force.
Hagan, racing the DieHard Dodge Charger Funny Car in his second full year in the class for Don Schumacher Racing, watched his 38-point lead diminish at this final event of the year after his first-round defeat at the hands of Bob Tasca III, while leading, when a failed piston at the 660-foot mark slowed him to a 4.162-second lap at 290.44 mph. Tasca passed him to win with a 4.148/303.57 run. Force won the first round, then won again in the second round, earning him the lead and the crown.
"It's like I told ESPN a few seconds ago, you're not going to see any tears from me," said Hagan, an Angus Cattle farmer from Christiansburg, Va., who will turn 28 on Thursday. "You get hit square in the chin and sometimes it hurts worse when you grin right back at the guy. So, you just shrug it off.
"We mixed it up with who I consider to be the best guy out there, the 15-time world champ, and we had him down to one or two rounds here in the final event of the year. We fought a hard fight, we dug deep, and we just weren't good enough today. And at the end of the day he's the champ.
"We have to put it behind us and move forward. I'm proud of (crew chief) Tommy DeLago. I'm proud of all my DieHard crew guys. I wouldn't trade them for the world. I plan on working with them for a long time."
As for what happened in the opening round, "It just started hurting some parts and beating up some pistons," he explained. "It just wasn't meant to be. All weekend we qualified well and ended up No. 4. I don't think you can say that we didn't do anything right. I think that we did everything right. We just didn't have any luck on our side. And sometimes you have to be lucky out here.
"I left on Tasca and everything was the way it should be. But, it just didn't work out. That's NHRA drag racing. And I'm not going to cry over spilled milk, and I'm looking forward to getting right back out there next year and mixing it back up with them."
Said DeLago: "I think it's been a really good season. It was really going as planned from the beginning. The DieHard team, including (assistant crew chief) Glenn Huszar, Matt Hagan, all the guys, had a plan from last year to learn and grow together and become stronger as a team.
"We weren't quite strong enough here at the last race like we needed to be, but we had a really good season and a lot to build off to get stronger next year."
Hagan ends the year with three wins in five final rounds, six semifinal and seven quarterfinal finishes, four No. 1 qualifiers and a round-win record of 37-20. In his 51 NHRA Funny Car races, he's won three times in seven final rounds, reached seven semifinals and 15 quarterfinals, qualified No. 1 six times, set two national elapsed-time records, recording a career round-win record of 53-45.