2013 NHRA: Matt Hagan Brainerd Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals Results: Runner-up
Matt Hagan's remarkable rejuvenation from one year ago continued Sunday at Brainerd International Raceway in central Minnesota as the 30-year-old angus cattle farmer sped to his seventh final round appearance of the season.
Even though the 2011 NHRA Funny Car world champ fell in a close final-round battle with DSR teammate Ron Capps by one-thousandth of a second, Hagan virtually secured the No. 1 seed in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship six-race playoff that begins on Sept. 13 near Charlotte.
"It was pretty much a great day," Hagan said after his 21st career final round appearance. "You can't be upset about the result. We ran good, but just didn't have enough in the final. It's all good. We move on to Indy and we're looking forward to it. It's time to dig a little deeper. We have a great team and Dickie (Venables) and this team are doing a fantastic job."
Hagan and the Rocky Boots/Mopar team earned the provisional pole on Friday evening before finishing second in the qualifying order to DSR teammate and reigning Funny Car champion "Fast Jack" Beckman's 4.038-second elapsed time.
Hagan, a seven-time NHRA Funny Car winner, made eight runs on the Brainerd strip between 4.044 and 4.122 seconds and the Rocky Boots flagship driver, arguably the best leaver in the flopper class, left first on all four opponents on Sunday. Hagan defeated Tony Pedregon, Courtney Force and DSR's Johnny Gray, before the narrow loss to Capps.
After missing the Countdown to the Championship playoff last year - in a season that saw Hagan post four runners-up and zero pole positions - the fast-talking Virginian is almost a lock to lead the Funny Car top 10 into the playoffs.
"It's huge to have that top spot," Hagan said. "It's from hard work. Nobody's giving us anything out here. We'll keep working hard starting at testing at Indy this Wednesday and hopefully we'll keep doing what we need to do to keep going rounds and be in position to race for another championship."
DSR Dodge Charger R/T Funny Cars own the top three positions in the Mello Yello standings as Hagan leads Capps and four-time 2013 winner Gray. DSR's Beckman ranks seventh in the standings.
The following are Hagan's results and other notes from the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals:
Event winner: Ron Capps (DSR)
No. 1 qualifier: Jack Beckman (DSR), 4.038 sec., 313.37 mph
Matt Hagan, Rocky Boots/Mopar Dodge Charger R/T
Qualifying position: No. 2
First round: HAGAN (4.068, 314.02) def. T. Pedregon (4.153, 281.42)
Second round: HAGAN (4.056, 311.70) def. C. Force (4.093, 312.06)
Semifinals: HAGAN (4.097, 311.34) def. J. Gray (4.119, 305.08)
Final round: Capps (4.063, 312.28) def. HAGAN (4.095, 312.78)
Session 1: 4.122 sec., 306.26 mph
Session 2: 4.044, 315.34
Session 3: 4.090, 306.81
Session 4: 4.110, 310.55
NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Points Standings
(Unofficial after 17 of 24 events)
1. MATT HAGAN, 1,253
2. RON CAPPS, 1,129
3. JOHNNY GRAY, 1,066
4. Cruz Pedregon, 1,066
5. John Force, 1,054
6. Courtney Force, 1,039
7. JACK BECKMAN, 1,015
8. Tim Wilkerson, 952
9. Bob Tasca III, 906
10. Robert Hight, 902
Sunday: Eliminations, 9 p.m. (ET), delayed
59th annual NHRA U.S. Nationals, Aug. 30-Sept. 2, Clermont, Ind.
TRAXXAS NITRO SCHOOTOUT QUALIFIERS
The NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootouts, which are races within U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway near over Labor Day Weekend, showcases Top Fuel on Aug. 31 (Saturday) and Funny Car on Sept. 1 (Sunday). Each Nitro Shootout champ will receive $100,000 for their teams.
The following drivers have qualified by winning Mello Yello Series titles this season:
1. Courtney Force (Pomona 1 winner)
2. RON CAPPS (PHOENIX)
3. JOHNNY GRAY (GAINESVILLE)
4. Cruz Pedregon (Las Vegas 1)
5. MATT HAGAN (CHARLOTTE 1)
6. John Force (Bristol)
7. JACK BECKMAN (highest in points without a 2013 title)
8. Fan vote
The top-10 drivers in points after the Aug. 28-Sept. 2 U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis qualify for the six-event NHRA Countdown to the Championship that begins Sept. 13 near Charlotte to determine the 2013 season champs in NHRA pro categories.
The following are drivers who are qualified through the past weekend's Mello Yello event at Brainerd, Minn.:
1. MATT HAGAN
2. Ron Capps
3. Cruz Pedregon
4. John Force
5. Johnny Gray
6. Courtney Force
TESTING, TESTING, TESTING
DSR teams and many others from the Mello Yello Series will test Wednesday and Thursday at Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis in preparation for the 59th annual U.S. Nationals Aug. 28-Sept. 2 at the track.
DSR INDY OPEN HOUSE ON AUG. 30
Fans and friends of Don Schumacher Racing are invited to join the biggest team in professional racing on Aug. 30 at the 8th annual Don Schumacher Racing Open House to benefit Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health and Camp Riley.
The festive, free event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on that Friday will feature a giant car show, entertainment and appearances by each of DSR's seven professional drivers along with owner Don Schumacher at DSR headquarters at 1681 E. Northfield Drive in Brownsburg, Ind.
The event kicks off the NHRA U.S. Nationals Labor Day Weekend, which opens with professional qualifying later that day at Lucas Oil Raceway located about 3 miles from DSR headquarters.
The Open House, which attracted a record-crowd of more than 4,000 fans last year and boosted DSR's contributions to Riley past the $200,000 mark, invites all to celebrate DSR's 200th NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series title.