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Early NHRA Rounds In Texas Are Upset-O-Rama

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, September 25 2011

Matt Hagan leads series of upsets in early rounds at the Motorplex.

(Editor’s note: This story will be updated after conclusion of racing this afternoon.)

ENNIS, Texas – Matt Hagan knocked off Funny Car points-leader Mike Neff in the opening round of eliminations of the 26th annual AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals Sunday morning at Texas Motorplex, where all three John Force Racing entries were unceremoniously trailered.

The upsets continued in Pro Stock, where four-time/reigning world champion Greg Anderson was defeated by unheralded Chris McGaha, and Larry Morgan defeated 2009 world champion Mike Edwards.

The race between Neff and Hagan matched the top-two in Funny Car points heading into the second of six races in the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship, the NHRA’s playoffs. Hagan, who qualified 12th on the 16-car ladder, covered the 1,000-foot distance on the all-concrete surface in 4.172-seconds and 302.14 mph in the DieHard Dodge Charger R/T fielded by Don Schumacher Racing.

Neff, who qualified his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang fifth for JFR, ran a quicker 4.151-seconds at 305.70 mph _ the difference being Hagan’s reaction-time edge of 0.072-seconds to 0.098-seconds.

Prior to the start of eliminations team-owner John Force, the 15-time/reigning Funny Car world champion, summed up the Neff-Hagan pairing while visiting the press box.

“Here’s what I told Neff: ‘If you’re destined to be the champ, take him out now. Don’t wait. If you can get him, get him,’^” Force said. Earlier in the day, Force was informed that he, NHRA superstar Kenny Bernstein and NASCAR team-owner Richard Childress had been chosen for induction into the 2012 class of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.

“That other kid, Hagan, thinks he’s destined to be champ,” Force continued. “I think it’s exciting, the two guys at the top going at it. Someone will get the lead, someone will get behind. But when you really look at the deal, you really want to get that guy first-round because they (DSR) know how to run big numbers. It’s going to be an exciting race. I told my guys, ‘Don’t plan on suiting me up. I’m going to watch this race.’ No matter who wins, I love seeing the young kids fight it out.”

As it turned out, neither Force nor teammate Robert Hight, the 2009 world champion, made it out of Round 1. Hight, the No. 4 qualifier in his Automobile Club of Southern California Mustang, was defeated by No. 13 qualifier Melanie Troxel. And Force, the No. 8 qualifier, was thumped by No. 9 Bob Tasca III.

Troxel, driver of the Procare RX Toyota Solara, ran 4.221-seconds at 300.93 mph while Hight’s car lost traction and ran 6.532-seconds at 101.71 mph. Tasca ran 4.175-seconds at 300.06 mph in his Motorcraft/Quick Lube Mustang to Force’s 4.565-seconds at 234.33 mph in the Castrol GTX High-Mileage Ford. Force had a much-quicker reaction-time _ 0.045-seconds to 0.111-seconds _ but also lost traction near the top end.

In Pro Stock, No. 15 qualifier McGaha, of Odessa in West Texas, rode a quicker reaction-time _ 0.042-seconds to Anderson’s 0.086-seconds _ to his upset win. Anderson, second in Countdown points to KB Racing teammate Jason Line, had qualified second in his Summit Racing Equipment Pontiac GXP. McGaha’s GXP covered the quarter-mile in 6.656-seconds and 208.26 mph to Anderson’s 6.613-seconds and 209.46 mph.

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, September 25 2011
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