Dodge//SRT racers Leah Pruett and Matt Hagan are on a roll right now in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series following impressive Top Fuel and Funny Car victories at the recent Texas NHRA FallNationals race. The pair will look for some “Sin City” luck this weekend (Oct. 27-29) at the NHRA Nevada Nationals in Las Vegas, the penultimate event in the 21-race NHRA national drag racing tour, as the Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) teammates currently lead the Top Fuel and Funny Car points standings with their Sublime Direct Connection Dodge//SRT nitro machines.
Pruett holds a four-point lead in the Top Fuel points with her TSR Direct Connection Dodge//SRT dragster, while running mate Hagan jumped to the No. 1 spot in Funny Car by 36 markers in his TSR Direct Connection Dodge//SRT Hellcat as they seek to repeat their Texas “double-up.”
Hagan also looks for his third consecutive NHRA race win this weekend following victories at St. Louis and Texas, while Pruett is seeking a third-straight final round appearance and second consecutive win. In addition, Hagan goes after his 50th NHRA career win and second straight Las Vegas triumph, having won the Funny Car category at the Four-Wide Nationals event in Vegas in April.
Enjoying a stellar season with eight NHRA national event victories combined, Pruett (two wins) and Hagan (six wins) have both credited their team owner, Tony Stewart, for his leadership in guiding their respective teams to the top of the standings. The duo is hoping to add to the legacy of Hall of Fame racer Stewart, who has captured multiple motorsports championships during his prestigious racing career, including in NASCAR and a wide range of racing series, by bringing home NHRA championships in their respective classes.
“Tony has been a great leader with this TSR team,” said Hagan, who chases his fourth NHRA World Funny Car championship. “We are growing as a team and Tony puts a ‘family unit’ feel around his entire organization. Our two nitro teams are really working well together despite being different classes. The enjoyment at the track holds true for my crew guys and Leah’s crew. Now, we are in a fight for the championships, and we’ll use Tony’s experience in chasing a championship.”
That team camaraderie couldn’t have shown through better than at the last NHRA event in Texas, when Hagan and Pruett scored TSR’s first “double-up” with the twin wins in the nitro classes.
“This was the ‘double-up’ we have been looking for,” said Stewart. “We have been trying to win both classes in a race for the past two seasons and we were close with Leah winning at Norwalk and Matt winning at St. Louis. I’m so excited for our drivers, crews and partners like Dodge and Direct Connection for this double class win. You could see both teams yelling and cheering at the starting line after the wins. And we have the points leads with two races to go. It’s exciting.”
Pruett acknowledges that the TSR team’s “double win” ranks at the top of her drag racing career moments.
“The Dallas race has become my greatest racing memory overall,” said Pruett. “That’s how monumental this win was for me and being a part of the TSR team, and with Matt winning as well and how important that race was for us in the NHRA ‘Countdown.’ Our teams worked so well together. Matt’s car needed some equipment, so my team jumped in to help the Funny Car guys. That’s a great team effort.”
Both Hagan and Pruett emphasize Stewart’s excitement after the Texas double win, but Stewart has won many championships as a driver and team owner and is preparing his TSR team for another title run.
“We were so happy as a team that Sunday night, but the next day were back in our race mode preparing for the Las Vegas event,” said Pruett, Stewart’s wife and a 12-time NHRA Top Fuel race winner. “I think Tony’s overall team atmosphere helps everyone here. The highest virtue that Tony has is treating people well. He helps me and our team with a racer’s mentally because he has been there and won in everything. It’s a huge help for everyone on the TSR team.”
Hagan uses Stewart and his experience as a driver to help him with his racing situations on and off the track.
“Having Tony as a team owner takes pressure off of me because he understands what it’s like behind the wheel,” said Hagan, a five-time winner at Las Vegas. “He understands the pressure of being a driver. But he’s also a team and track owner and manages a lot of people. For me, it’s important to have a guy I can go to. I can relate to Tony because he knows how to handle the pressure (of the racing). He is tremendous person and great mentor for me.”
While leading the TSR Nitro team at the Nevada Nationals, Stewart will also be in action, driving in the Top Alcohol Dragster category in the NHRA Nevada Nationals. Stewart won his first NHRA national event in the division earlier this year at the Four-Wide Nationals in Las Vegas.
The NHRA Nevada Nationals event schedule will include two nitro qualifying sessions on Friday, Oct. 27, at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. PDT and two nitro qualifying rounds on Saturday, Oct. 28, at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. PDT. The final eliminations will begin on Sunday, Oct. 29, at 11 a.m. PDT.
The Fox Sports 1 telecasts for the NHRA Nevada Nationals will air on Friday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m. EDT with qualifying round one and qualifying round two on Sunday, Oct. 29, at 3 p.m. EDT. The final eliminations will be televised on Fox Sports 1 on Sunday, Oct. 29, at 5 p.m. EDT.