SONOMA, Calif. (July 29, 2012) – Matt Hagan has never enjoyed being the runner-up in any sport he’s played and especially not in drag racing.
But it has been a humbling season for the reigning NHRA Funny Car world champion and just advancing to the championship round of an NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event at Sonoma made him feel pretty good on Sunday.
Hagan and his Aaron’s Dream Machine Funny Car team had not advanced past the second round in the first 13 Full Throttle events this year, and only got past the first round four times.
So losing to Don Schumacher Racing teammate Johnny Gray in the championship round of the NHRA Sonoma Nationals in Northern California’s Napa Valley actually put a smile on his face.
“I’ll take second today, darn right I will,” Hagan said. “Johnny’s a great teammate and friend but I wanted to beat him like a drum. He just had a better car this weekend.”
Gray’s time of 4.142 seconds at 305.15 mph easily got around Hagan, who lost traction early and slowed to a time of 5.461 and 146.67 mph.
“Our guys had to wick it up because he had lane choice,” Hagan said.
Hagan acknowledged his Dodge Charger R/T caught a break on Sunday when he smoked the tires in the second round against Jeff Arend but Arend smoked his even more.
“We spent the day pedal-festing, but Johnny did a great job of leaving on time and keeping it in the groove. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to thump him bad but congratulations to Johnny and his guys because they worked just as hard as our guys did.”
Hagan was able to move up to 12th points in the Full Throttle standings and is only 91 points out of being in the top-10 with three events remaining before the field is set for the Countdown to the Championship that is contested over the last six events of the 23-race season.
“We’ll take anything we can get right now; I don’t care if we have to spit, fight, pinch or bite to get into the Countdown. We showed some promise by getting to the final and made up a lot of points. We have a few races for us to do it.
“We definitely have a shot now. After today there’s a lot of promise and a lot of hope that we have turned the corner.
“I’m excited and I know our team is excited. We’ve got a chance to get into this thing.”
Event winner: Johnny Gray, DSR
No. 1 qualifier: Cruz Pedregon 4.028
Matt Hagan, Aaron’s Dream Machine Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 12
First round: HAGAN (4.105, 308.28) def. Courtney Force (4.164, 293.22)
Second round: HAGAN (4.924, 214.36) def. Jeff Arend (5.107, 192.36)
Semifinals: HAGAN (4.231, 291.32) def. Cruz Pedregon (4.293, 233.84)
Final: Johnny Gray (4.142, 305.15) def. HAGAN (5.461, 146.67)
Session 1: 4.243 sec., 291.26 mph
Session 2: 4.241, 275.96
Session 3: 4.165, 301.40
Session 4: 4.179, 276.69
NHRA FULL THROTTLE FUNNY CAR STANDINGS
(through Aug. 29, 2012; Sonoma, Calif.; * clinched spots in Countdown)
1.* Robert Hight, 1112
2. *RON CAPPS, 1031
3. JACK BECKMAN, 943
4. Mike Neff, 899
5. JOHNNY GRAY, 881
6. Cruz Pedregon, 761
7. Courtney Force, 740
8. Jeff Arend, 717
9. Bob Tasca III, 687
10. John Force, 674
11. Tim Wilkerson, 605
12. MATT HAGAN, 583
VOTE 4 HAGAN ACROSS AMERICA CAMPAIGN CONTEST
The next step in the Vote4Hagan.com campaign to improve Matt Hagan’s chances of getting selected for the Sept. 2 Traxxas Nitro Shootout will be unveiled Saturday, Aug. 4 at Facebook.com/shoeracing and ShoeRacing.com.
The “Vote 4 Hagan Across America” campaign asks fans to go to one of those popular Social Media websites to download and then print a special Hagan campaign poster. Take the printout to a special place in your locale that shows scenery or a landmark and take a photo then post it at Facebook.com/shoeracing.
An expert DSR panel will select the 10 best. Those selections will be announced on Aug. 28, and each will receive a 2012 Matt Hagan 1/24th-scale diecast collectible of his Aaron’s Dream Machine Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car.
Family suitable entries will become part of a photo album at Facebook.com/shoeracing.
Full-size posters for $10 can be purchased next weekend at the Don Schumacher Racing merchandise trailer on the midway during the NHRA Northwest Nationals in Kent, Wash., and at the DSR website store at ShoeRacing.com.
NEXT FULL THROTTLE EVENT
Aug. 3-5, NHRA Northwest Nationals, Pacific Raceways, Kent, Wash.
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 189 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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