ENNIS, Texas (Sept. 23, 2012) - Matt Hagan and the Aaron's Dream Machine/Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car advanced to its third championship round Sunday in the last six events. The other three in that span were trips to the semifinals.
They are the hottest Funny Car team over the past two months in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
"That's great, but it doesn't matter because we're not in the Countdown," a disappointed Hagan said after losing a chance to win the team's first title of the year.
The team just missed qualifying for the 10-driver Countdown to the Championship two weeks ago and lost a chance to defend the NHRA Funny Car world championship it won a year ago.
Bob Tasca III is another driver expected to be in the Countdown but also didn't make it.
Ironically, Hagan faced Tasca for the title Sunday in the Texas AAA NHRA Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex near Dallas.
They both lost traction early and smoked their tires. Hagan was able to regain control first and led when he hammered the throttle and the blower belt on the supercharger came off to basically kill his engine's power.
Tasca reached the finish line first in 4.826 seconds at 197.59 mph to Hagan's 5.025 (188.15).
"It shook the tires fast, but I pedaled it and then it kicked the blower belt off," Hagan said. "I had to watch him cruise by.
"If the blower belt hadn't come off I think we'd have gotten the win light. That's how it goes. (Crew chief) Tommy DeLago has done a really good job coming on in the later part of the season."
But the sting of disappointment wasn't lessened by making it to another final.
"For Aaron's, Mopar and DieHard it's really cool that we went to another final," Hagan said. "It's great to be going rounds, but we really need to make it count when we get opportunities to race for the trophy. I can't help but feel like we gave it away up there.
"I just feel for my (crew) guys. They did as much work today that the guys did who won, but my guys aren't celebrating and smiling. It's disheartening. We'll keep digging deep and hopefully get a win before the year's up.
"The opportunity to win only comes along so many times."
Hagan, who qualified No. 7, beat John Force in the first round and Tim Wilkerson in the second. In the semifinals, Hagan was paired with teammate and points leader Ron Capps. In one of the closest races of the day, Hagan's 4.203 (293.03) was two-hundredths of a second better than Capps' 4.220 (288.09).
The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series competes this weekend near St. Louis.
The following are Hagan's results and notes from the NHRA Fall Nationals near Dallas:
Event winner: Bob Tasca III (Tasca Racing)
No. 1 Qualifier: Courtney Force (John Force Racing), 4.081 sec., 308.21 mph
Matt Hagan, Aaron's Dream Machine/Mopar Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 7
Round 1: HAGAN (4.134 sec., 302.48 mph) def. John Force (4.225, 298.01)
Round 2: HAGAN (4.172, 297.48) def. Tim Wilkerson (4.509, 204.66)
Semifinals: HAGAN (4.203, 293.03) def. Ron Capps (4.220, 288.09)
Finals: Bob Tasca III (4.826, 197.59) def. HAGAN (5.025, 188.15)
Session 1: 4.353, 229.24 mph
Session 2: 4.172, 299.60
Session 3: 4.151, 296.63
Session 4: 4.208, 294.69
NHRA FULL THROTTLE STANDINGS
(Unofficial through Sept. 23, 2012; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. RON CAPPS, 2,307
2. Mike Neff, 2,211
3. JACK BECKMAN, 2,210
4. Cruz Pedregon, 2,167
5. Robert Hight, 2,144
6. Courtney Force, 2,140
7. Tim Wilkerson, 2,123
8. JOHNNY GRAY, 2,113
9. John Force, 2,104
10. Jeff Arend, 2,095
11. MATT HAGAN, 978
NEXT FULL THROTTLE EVENTS
Sept. 28-30, NHRA Midwest Nationals, Madison, Ill. (St. Louis area)
Oct. 4-7, NHRA Nationals, Reading, Pa. (Philadelphia area)
Oct. 25-28, Big O Tires NHRA Nationals, Las Vegas
Nov. 8-11, Auto Club of Southern California Finals, Pomona, Calif. (finale)
About Aaron's, Inc.
Aaron's, Inc. (NYSE: AAN), the nation's leader in the sale and lease ownership of residential furniture, computers, consumer electronics, home appliances and accessories. Aaron's Inc., which celebrates its 57th anniversary this year, has over 1,940 company-operated and franchised stores in 48 states and Canada. Founded in 1955 by entrepreneur and current Chairman R. Charles Loudermilk Sr. and headquartered in Atlanta, Aaron's has been publicly traded since 1982. For more information, visit www.aarons.com.
About Don Schumacher Racing
Don Schumacher Racing, headquartered in Brownsburg, Ind., consists of seven professional NHRA teams: in Top Fuel, the U.S. Army dragster driven by seven-time world champion Tony Schumacher, the FRAM/Prestone dragster of Spencer Massey and the Matco Tools dragster of Antron Brown; and in Funny Car, 2011 NHRA Funny Car champion Matt Hagan in the Aaron's Dream Machine/Mopar Dodge Charger R/T, Valvoline NextGen Dodge piloted by Jack Beckman, the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge of Ron Capps and the Service Central Dodge of Johnny Gray. DSR has won 193 NHRA national event titles and nine world championships.
Follow Don Schumacher Racing at ShoeRacing.com, on Twitter at @shoeracing and Facebook.com/shoeracing.
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