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Matt Hagan vs. John Force Funny Car Championship Showdown at NHRA Las Vegas Nationals at LVMS

October 23, 2010 by  

Matt Hagan vs. John Force Funny Car Championship Showdown at NHRA Las Vegas Nationals at LVMS
America’s Greatest Drag Strip – The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway – will play host to one of professional drag racing’s biggest showdowns as 14-time NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Funny Car champion John Force tries to catch points leader Matt Hagan with just two races remaining on the 2010 calendar. 

A good day at the races in Las Vegas could very well seal the deal for either driver.

Hagan drives for Don Schumacher Racing and holds a 34-point lead over Force as the relative youngster (he’s 27, Force is 61) seeks his first Funny Car title.

“We have had a great year all year,” said Hagan. “I can’t say enough about my guys and Tommy DeLago tuning the race car. That Force camp over there is a first­class operation. John is a world champion for a reason.

“We can’t make any mistakes. We have to go out there, do some good, solid racing, go some rounds. I don’t feel like we have to set the world on fire but we need to go some rounds and keep kind of matching John round for round, and it will hopefully fall the way we want it to. This drag racing, you never know how it’s going to end up.

“You know, I think there’s definitely pressure the whole season. It was pressure to get into the Countdown. It’s pressure to try to win every race. So you know, obviously, there’s extra pressure. I mean, you’ve got a camp like Force and my teammate, Jack Beckman, right there knocking on the door. Force has led the points all year long and we just got lucky enough to take that lead over. But these points change so quickly, I mean, one day you’re on top and the next, you’re sitting second or third or fourth. And you know, we’re so glad to have them but right now we have two big races ahead of us and I think that we are just going to treat them like every other race and just we are going to go out there, try to get it past the first round and what will be, will be.

“So I will try not to add any extra pressure on myself. Obviously it’s there. We just have to step up and do what we are paid to do and that’s drive these race cars and have fun doing it.”

Despite 14 trips to the champion’s podium, Force is not copping a been-there, done-that attitude. “I am glad to be heading to Las Vegas in a couple of weeks because that is where they have every big heavy-weight prize fight,” said Force. “I’m in a fight for this championship and I’ve been in championship fights before. I’m ready and we are going to come out swinging.

“Beckman’s still got a shot. But at the end of the day, we can’t count on Hagan to make mistakes. (He’s got) too good of a race car with the tuners they have got and the financial backing that they have got from Schumacher. And the driver’s good. So we have to come home and make changes. We try to look at why Hagan’s car would run and our car wouldn’t run. And basically, the weight factor is the thing we found as the biggest problem, even though he’s much bigger than me, the Schumacher cars are light. So we put our car on a diet. I guess we have taken like 40 pounds off it. So we have got to go into Vegas, scale it, make sure it’s right.

“We have got to do everything we can to gobble up the points like he did at the last race. He did everything right. We did everything wrong. And the fact that Cruz was able to get him in the final, it still kept our hopes open. I need every point I can if I’m going to catch this kid.”

Jack Beckman also has a chance to claim the title if he does well in both Las Vegas and the season finale in Pomona, Calif.

But Hagan and Force will have to worry about the rest of the field since the entry list for the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals is bulging at the seams. Twenty-one Funny Cars are entered in the Halloween Weekend dragfest – the biggest entry list since the 20008 NHRA Winternationals. To be eliminated by a non-contender in the first round could spell disaster for Force or Hagan.

To purchase tickets or obtain additional information, please call LVMS at (702) 644-4444 or visit www.LVMS.com. Follow LVMS on Facebook and Twitter.

Schedule for the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series NHRA Las Vegas Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Wednesday, Oct. 27
6 p.m. – Speedway Children’s Charities  for Kids poker tournament at Cannery Hotel & Casino.

Thursday, Oct. 28
7:30 a.m. – Spectator gates open.
7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. – Registration, tech inspection open (all categories).
8 a.m. – Sportsman qualifying.
4 p.m. — Comp Eliminator qualifying.
6 p.m. – Track closed.
6-8 p.m. – Free NHRA Fanfest and driver autograph session at Fremont Street Experience.
6-8 p.m. — Free Don Schumacher Racing driver autograph session at New York New York Hotel & Casino.
6-8 p.m. – Free NHRA driver autograph session (Terry McMillen) at Golden Gate Hotel & Casino.

Friday, Oct. 29
7:30 a.m. – Spectator gates open. 7:30 a.m.-Noon – Registration, tech inspection open (pro teams and Top Alcohol only).
8 a.m. – Sportsman eliminations.
10 a.m. – Comp Eliminator qualifying.
10:30 a.m. – Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car qualifying.
11:45 a.m. – Pro Mod qualifying.
12:15 p.m. – Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying.
1 p.m. – Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car qualifying.
2 p.m. – Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car qualifying.
3:15 p.m. – Comp Eliminator qualifying.
3:45 p.m. – Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying.
4:30 p.m. – Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car qualifying.
5:30 p.m. – Pro Mod qualifying.
6 p.m. – Track closed.

Saturday, Oct. 30
7:30 a.m. – Spectator gates open.
8 a.m. – Sportsman eliminations.
10:30 a.m. – First round of Comp Eliminator eliminations.
11:15 a.m. – Pro Mod qualifying.
<11:45 a.m. – Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying.
12:30 p.m. – Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car qualifying.
1:30 p.m. – Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car qualifying.
2:45 p.m. – Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying.
3:30 p.m. – Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car qualifying.
4:30 p.m. – First round of Pro Mod eliminations.
5 p.m. – First round of Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car eliminations.
6 p.m. – Track closed.

Sunday, Oct. 31
7:30 a.m. – Spectator gates open.
>9 a.m. – Sportsman eliminations.
10 a.m. – Pre-race ceremonies.
11 a.m. – Final eliminations begin.
4:30 p.m. – Track closed.

Schedule subject to change.

© 2010, VegasNews.com. All rights reserved.


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