2013 NHRA: Matt Hagan NHRA U.S. Nationals Event Recap: First Round
Matt Hagan had the most consistent Funny Car throughout qualifying at the prestigious U.S. Nationals near Indianapolis.
In various conditions, Hagan's Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T tuned by crew chief Dickie Venables put together four solid qualifying runs ranging from 4.00 seconds to 4.10 seconds.
But NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series teams were greeted by different conditions late Monday morning when it was cool and overcast.
Those are conditions that Hagan's 10,000-horsepower Dodge Charger R/T thrives on. But then Hagan's Funny Car did something it hadn't done all weekend; it hazed the tires.
"It's disappointing," Hagan said. "I think Dickie (Venables) is the most disappointed. It's tough. Honestly, I still have so much confidence in Dickie and our team and stuff like this happens."
Hagan put everything in perspective by comparing his 2012 season, where he lost in the first round of championship eliminations nine times and never won an event title of pole to this season where the team has visited the final round eight times and four times.
"Where we are this year compared to where we were last year there's just no way I can hang my head or those guys should hang their heads," he said. "We have to come together as a team and stayed positive and moved forward.
"What's done is done. You have to learn from it and move forward. You can sit around and cry about it but that's only going to put us further behind."
In Hagan's mind, he's already moved on to focusing on the six-race Countdown to the Championship, which begins in two weeks at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte. Hagan will be seeded No. 1 in the Countdown with a 30-point lead on Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps.
"I think that we'll just roll into the Countdown and we'll have 30 points on everyone and we'll go do our thing. As bad as it stings, as bad as it hurts you just have to go out there and keep your chin up and keep digging and work hard."
But Hagan didn't want to set any expectations for the remaining six NHRA Mello Yello series events.
"It's the Countdown," he said. "That's why we run it. If I knew the races we were going to win I'd only show up on those days and I'd be farming every other day. That's why we race on Sunday.
"I have no expectations in the Countdown. This is a humbling sport. Like I told Dickie a couple of races ago, if we don't win another round, which I hope we do, it's been a good year for us. We might be down but don't count us out."
Event winner: Robert Hight (John Force Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: MATT HAGAN (Don Schumacher Racing) 4.007, 319.22 (track records)
MATT HAGAN, MAGNETI MARELLI OFFERED BY MOPAR/ROCKY DODGE CHARGER R/T
Qualified: No. 1
MONDAY CHAMPIONSHIP ELIMINATIONS
First round: Jeff Arend (4.144 sec., 307.86 mph) def. HAGAN (4.248, 307.79)
Session 1: 4.102, 311.63
Session 2: 4.007, 319.22 (track records)
Session 3 (Shootout Round 1): 4.109, 311.20 (lost)
Session 4: 4.048, 313.58
$100,000 TRAXXAS FUNNY CAR NITRO SHOOTOUT CHAMPION (Sunday)
Jack Beckman, DSR Valvoline MaxLife/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T
NHRA MELLO YELLO SERIES STANDINGS
(Unofficial final regular season points through U.S. Nationals)
1. MATT HAGAN 1,297
2. RON CAPPS 1,183
3. JOHNNY GRAY 1,125
4. John Force 1,115
5. JACK BECKMAN 1,110
6. Cruz Pedregon 1,099
7. Courtney Force 1,071
8. Tim Wilkerson 1,023
9. Robert Hight 1,015
10. Del Worsham 948
2013 FUNNY CAR WINNERS: C. Force, CAPPS, GRAY, C. Pedregon, HAGAN, C. Pedregon, GRAY, GRAY, HAGAN, J. Force, C. Force, HAGAN, GRAY, C. Pedregon, CAPPS, HAGAN, CAPPS, Hight.
NHRA COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP
(Unofficial for start of six-event playoff that starts Sept. 13 near Charlotte)
1. MATT HAGAN 2,110
2. RON CAPPS 2,080
3. JOHNNY GRAY 2,070
4. John Force 2,060
5. JACK BECKMAN 2,050
6. Cruz Pedregon 2,040
7. Courtney Force 2,030
8. Tim Wilkerson 2,020
9. Robert Hight 2,100
10. Del Worsham 2,000