The biggest surprise of the young NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season has been that reigning Funny Car champion Matt Hagan and the Aaron's Dream Machine team are 0-3.

It's not that the team just has not won an event title this year, but Hagan's Dodge Charger R/T has not won a round of eliminations yet.

After Hagan and crew chief Tommy DeLago won the 2011 NHRA Funny Car world championship last November at Pomona, Calif., this year's scenario couldn't have been further from their minds.

In two of this year's first three races, the team has qualified ninth so it couldn't select the best lane for the first round of eliminations. And each time of those times they were paired against a Don Schumacher Racing teammate.

"We have to make sure we are going to do better," said Hagan, who is tied for 10th in points heading to Las Vegas.

"We're keeping it positive. You have to keep these guys up by setting an example. Out on the racetrack and here in the pits you have to let them know we're going to get through this.

"We're not champions because we lucked into it. We dig deep and we don't give up. Right now it's a test of our character."

While the character of the Aaron's Dream Machine team doesn't need tested, its Dodge Charger R/T did.

Hagan and DeLago are optimistic heading to Las Vegas this week for the March 30-April 1 NHRA Nationals after a very successful testing session on March 12 upon conclusion of the Tire Kingdom Gatornationals at Gainesville, Fla.

"I think it's just me. I think I've been pressing too hard," DeLago said before testing. "I'm putting too much pressure on myself to perform and trying to run too good."

"It's just me, I think I'm being a little too aggressive and not making the right decisions. When I look at it I probably have been getting after it more than I used to."

DeLago was at DSR headquarters outside Indianapolis last week. Instead of commenting on how testing went in Florida, he just smiled. It was a very big smile.

That can only be good when qualifying begins on Friday for the Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.