HAGAN HAS NEAR-PERFECT RUN IN READING; TAKES RUNNER-UP AND POINTS LEAD MOHNTON, Pa. (Oct. 10, 2010) - It was an almost perfect weekend for Matt Hagan, driver of the DieHard Dodge Charger Funny Car at the 26th annual NHRA Nationals. He qualified...
HAGAN HAS NEAR-PERFECT RUN IN READING; TAKES RUNNER-UP AND POINTS LEAD
MOHNTON, Pa. (Oct. 10, 2010) - It was an almost perfect weekend for Matt Hagan, driver of the DieHard Dodge Charger Funny Car at the 26th annual NHRA Nationals. He qualified No. 1 for the fourth time this year, the sixth of his career, set another national elapsed-time record (4.011 seconds), for which he earned 20 bonus points, and reached his fourth final round of the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
He didn't walk away with his third victory of the year, however, as that went to non-Countdown contender Cruz Pedregon. But that's OK, sort of. What he did take home is the top spot in the Countdown to the Championship point standings.
After establishing the national record and qualifying No. 1, he moved ahead of 14-time champion John Force in the rankings and, after Force exited in the opening round of eliminations, is now 64 points ahead, with two races remaining in the season.
Hagan had lane choice for every round, tossing out 4.0-second laps like they were candy on Halloween. He first defeated Phil Burkart with a 4.088-second lap at 302.08 mph, then Tim Wilkerson with a 4.080/302.14, and when temperatures rose, he pulled out another round-quick pass, a 4.118/300.26, to defeat Jim Head in the semifinals.
After he and Pedregon took off at the starting lights in the final, Hagan's DieHard Doge unexpectedly experienced tire shake. He quickly pedaled it in an attempt to regain traction, but was unable to recover in time, ceding the victory to Pedregon's 4.130/312.35 with a losing 4.242/301.13.
"There's nothing to complain about," said the 27-year-old Angus Cattle farmer from Christiansburg, Va. "I'm really, really proud of (crew chief) Tommy DeLago, (assistant crew chief) Glenn Huszar and the DieHard guys. They're doing a hell of a job out here. Everybody is handling the pressure well.
"I knew the conditions were getting pretty good out there and I thought we had it in the bag," he said of the final round. "But that's drag racing for you. We have a good race car. We went down the race track every single lap today except for the final, and that's just how it goes.
"We swapped the points lead with Force, and that's huge. But just as fast as we swapped it it can be swapped back. We'll put a little feather in our cap for that and put it behind us.
"If we had it our way, we'd win every race, but it doesn't happen like that. Tommy and Glenn really stepped up to the plate, they cranked it out, and made up a lot of distance in qualifying and on race day.
"The pressure is what it is. I think it's been there for us to perform since the season began. Whether it's the second race or the last race or 10 races to go, it's the same for us.
"We have nothing to hang our heads about. As bad as it hurts inside we're going to stay humble, tie on a big grin and move right into Vegas."
Next up is the 10th annual NHRA Las Vegas Nationals at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Oct. 29-31.