HAGAN LOSES A CLOSE SEMIS TO TEAMMATE CAPPS IN SONOMA SONOMA, Calif. (July 18, 2010) - Matt Hagan and the DieHard Dodge Charger Funny Car team came out with guns a-blazing in Sunday's Funny Car eliminations at the FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals in...
HAGAN LOSES A CLOSE SEMIS TO TEAMMATE CAPPS IN SONOMA
SONOMA, Calif. (July 18, 2010) - Matt Hagan and the DieHard Dodge Charger Funny Car team came out with guns a-blazing in Sunday's Funny Car eliminations at the FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals in Sonoma, Calif., after struggling to qualify No. 11.
Hagan tore through the field to reach his fourth semifinal round of the season only to be tossed out by a margin of five feet by his Don Schumacher Racing teammate and eventual event winner Ron Capps. Hagan had the edge over Capps at the starting lights, with an .083 (of a second) reaction time to Capps' .095. He held the lead to the 660-foot mark of the 1000-foot race track, but was nipped by Capps' 4.169-second pass at 298.54 mph to Hagan's losing 4.192/295.59.
It was a tough loss for the 27-year-old Angus Cattle farmer who is fiercely determined to win his third national event of his second full season as a pro Funny Car racer, but the shining light was that he clinched a spot in the Countdown to 1 playoffs, which begin for the top 10 in the final six races of the year.
And, he finally defeated 14-time Funny Car champion John Force in the second round after facing off against him five times in his career. He defeated Del Worsham in the opening round with a 4.172/297.81, demonstrating the DieHard Charger's chops as a potential winner on any race day.
"It was close," said Hagan, who shares a close friendship with his mentor Capps. "It kills me inside because I want to beat his #$% so bad I can't stand it. He's beat us every time we've been up against him (four times in 2009). And I want to put a curse on him," he said, laughing.
"They have a great car over there on the NAPA team, and we have a great car too. That's two semifinals in a row now, and two finals in a row for them. Congratulations to Ron on his first win!
"(Crew chief) Tommy DeLago is bringing his A-game. He's doing a good job. He's letting me do my deal on the starting line. My turn to beat Capps will come up. It's going to be what it will be. We're going to roll right into next weekend in Denver and have a great game plan.
"I have to give all the credit to Tommy because we were really struggling in qualifying and he turned this car right around on race day. He stepped up when it counted. That makes me have a lot of confidence in him and the DieHard guys. They're doing such a great job putting this car together. I know it's going to happen for us. I know we're going to get our third win of the year pretty soon."
As for his win over Force, "That was awesome," he said. "John is always tough. He's always got killer lights, whether he rolls it in deep or shallow. He's just tough on the starting line. To go around John like that was great. We just have to keep winning rounds like that and we'll be fine."
Next up is the final race of the Western Swing, the 31st annual Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colo., July 23-25.