CONCORD, N.C. (April 14, 2012) - Matt Hagan, crew chief Tommy DeLago and their Aaron's Dream Machine Funny Car just knew this would be the weekend when their season would turn around.
They received their championship rings Saturday to commemorate their 2011 NHRA Funny Car world championship.
The last time the team was at Charlotte Motor Speedway's zMAX Dragway at Concord last Fall, it became the first and only Funny Car to complete a 1,000-foot run in less than four seconds. In addition to running 3.995 seconds, the team blasted out a 322.27-mph pass.
Add to that, a very successful testing session April 2 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway that seemed to find the gremlins that led to a 1-4 record in eliminations.
The optimism made the disappointment of not qualifying for today's elimination rounds of the Four-Wide NHRA Nationals even more stinging.
"Hey guys, just keep your heads up," Hagan said when they returned to their pit spot after their fourth and final qualifying attempt couldn't have more unbelievably disappointing.
Hagan and Jeff Arend of Kalitta Motorsports battled for the last of 16 spots in the unique event that features the world's only four-lane dragstrip.
They ran identical elapsed times of 4.205 seconds in the last session to tie for the 16th and final position. But the tiebreaker went to Arend for a faster speed (297.35 mph to 291.13 mph).
Arend races Sunday, Hagan doesn't.
"This was just a very, very tough weekend for our Aaron's Dream Machine team here at DSR," said Hagan, whose car sustained a major explosion on Friday in which he was not injured. "But this just makes us want to work even harder.
"I know I keep saying it, but we really have a great team here with Tommy DeLago and we showed that last year. We didn't back into anything winning the championship. We've just had some bad luck to start the 2012 season.
"We're going to test here at Charlotte on Monday and hopefully we can make six or seven laps and work hard and things will start coming around our way. Our luck can't stay like this all year, it's got to come our way and we're going to work hard to make sure it does starting at Houston in two weeks."
It was only third time Hagan has not qualified for NHRA championship eliminations and first since 2008.
No. 1 qualifier: Robert Hight (4.074 sec., 317.19 mph)
Matt Hagan, Aaron's Dream Machine Dodge Charger R/T
Qualifying position: No. 17, DNQ
Session 1: 4.317, 235.51 mph
Session 2: 8.390, 78.00
Session 3: 4.318, 301.81
Session 4: 4.205, 291.13
FULL THROTTLE SCHEDULE:
Sunday: Eliminations, noon.
Sunday: 7-10 p.m. (ET); 7 p.m. (PT)
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 177 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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