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Matt Hagan drove the Freightliner/DieHard Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car into the semifinals of today’s 30th-annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals here at Brainerd International Raceway.

Starting from the pole position, the 28-year-old Christiansburg, Va. native blasted through the first two rounds before running into a very hot driver in Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps.

“It was a ‘good old drag race which could have gone either way,” he explained about the match which was decided by just .011 seconds. “Ron is a great racer and when you run someone like him, you have to be ready for a tight run.”

Hagan ran a 4.145-second lap at 302.62 miles per hour against Capps’s 4.137 at 306.46 in the losing effort. He made it to the semifinals after dispatching Tony Pedregon in the opening round (4.145 at 299.40 vs. 6.605 at 100.76) and Melanie Troxel in the quarterfinals (4.158 at 277.77 vs. 6.084 at 117.96).

The quarterfinals victory ended with a bang the result being a switch to a different body and some extra work by the team.

“That’s not why we lost to Ron,” explained Hagan. “Remember, these cars go through a complete rebuild between rounds, even if there isn’t an engine issue like we had.”

The number-one qualifier came on a 4.101 pass at 303.57 during Friday’s second round of qualifying.

“Tommy DeLago has been giving me a great race car and it keeps getting better,” said Hagan. “We’ve been really consistent, getting down the track some 90 percent of the time, which is great. When we lose, it is generally in a tight battle, a great race like today.

“And this is the way we want to go into the Countdown. We’ll go to Indy next Thursday and do some testing before the U.S. Nationals to get ready for that race (Labor Day weekend) and for the playoffs.”

Hagan heads to Indianapolis in fifth place of the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car standings. The loss to Capps, in sixth place, allowed the other DSR driver to get within three points of Hagan.

The top-10 drivers at the conclusion of the U.S. Nationals will qualify for the six-race Countdown to the Championship. The current top four are: Mike Neff, Robert Hight, DSR teammate Jack 

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FC Mello Yello Points

Unofficial NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship Standings:

Funny Car

1 Jack Beckman 278
2 Tommy Johnson Jr 276
3 Matt Hagan 238
4 Tim Wilkerson 179
5 John Force 173
6 Ron Capps 159
7 Alexis DeJoria 154
8 Bob Tasca III 149
9 J.R. Todd 141
10 Robert Hight 100