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Pruett, Hagan Double Up with Victories at Texas NHRA Fallnationals, TSR Dodge//SRT Drivers Take Points Leads

Team owner Tony Stewart described his NHRA Nitro team’s performance as a great “double up” as drivers Leah Pruett and Matt Hagan drove their Dodge//SRT machines to the winner’s circle in the Texas NHRA Fallnationals at the Texas Motorplex.

It marked the first “double” victory for Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) since the team was established in 2022, as Pruett took top honors in the Top Fuel category and Hagan captured the win in the Funny Car division.

With two races remaining at Las Vegas and Pomona, California, in the “Countdown to the Championship,” both Pruett and Hagan have vaulted to their respective class points leads. Pruett holds a four-point margin over Doug Kalitta, while Hagan leads by 36 markers over Bob Tasca III.

Both drivers and their crews put in sensational performances on race day, with Pruett clocking consistent runs of 3.678, 3.697, 3.681 and 3.684, while Hagan posted passes of 3.895, 3.868, 3.875 and 3.883.

“This is the ‘double up’ we have been looking for,” said Stewart, the three-time NASCAR Cup champion. “I really don’t know how I feel right now. 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, Direct Direction, Mobil 1 and American Rebel for this ‘double event win.’ And we have the points leads with two races to go. It’s exciting.”

“We are thrilled to congratulate our Dodge//SRT Dodge drivers Leah Pruett, Matt Hagan and the entire Tony Stewart Racing team on their first NHRA double-event wins at the Texas NHRA Fallnationals,” said Tim Kuniskis, Dodge Brand Chief Executive Officer — Stellantis. “The competition in the 11,000-horsepower NHRA Top Fuel and Funny Car divisions is the toughest in motorsports, and Leah and Matt’s performances are proof that Dodge vehicles and Direct Connection parts are a winning combination on the track and on the street for Dodge and Mopar enthusiasts.”

For Pruett, the win was her second NHRA national event “Wally” trophy of the 2023 campaign after taking top honors at Norwalk, Ohio, in June, and her 12th NHRA career Top Fuel victory.

In the final round, Pruett, who qualified seventh in her TSR Mobil1 Dodge//SRT dragster, took a starting line advantage over opponent Steve Torrence and posted a 3.684 to a 3.662, a winning margin of only a few inches. In the early rounds, Leah defeated Shawn Langdon, Kalitta and Clay Millican to advance to her fifth final round of the season.

“I saw both teams — the Dodge American Rebel Funny Car team and my team — celebrating at the starting line, and I was so excited too,” said Pruett. “Both teams work so well together. This win surpasses my very first Top Fuel win — the emotion I have for it and the accomplishment of both Matt and I winning today and what it means for Tony Stewart Racing. And the wins coming in the Countdown are so important too. This is going to be on my top memory list forever. The last time I wore a Cowboy hat was here in 2018 at the Stampede of Speed when I won the semifinal round in Factory Stock Showdown to take the championship with the Dodge Challenger Drag Pak. Then I won the final round and got to raise two Wallys.

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“We know where we stand right now with the points lead. Neil Strausbaugh (Pruett’s crew chief) has been absolutely incredible this year. In his second season as lead crew chief, he has really risen to the occasion when it matters. I was intimidated by this left lane; it’s very difficult to see the (starting line) bulbs. Matt told me it’s not about getting up on the wheel for the final, just be focused, then he won. Now I’m really excited with the double win for TSR.”

Hagan, the three-time NHRA World Funny Car Champion, qualified a solid fifth in the TSR American Rebel Dodge//SRT Hellcat and produced impressive runs in bettering Paul Lee, Alex Laughlin, Tim Wilkerson and John Force in the final round.

In the final, Hagan recorded a 3.883 over Force’s 6.818 to score his sixth win of the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series and his 49th career victory. With the win, Hagan now moves to a 36-point lead over Bob Tasca III with the series’ final two events set for Las Vegas (Oct. 27-29) and Pomona (Nov. 10-12). Hagan entered the Texas event in third place, just 13 points out of the lead.

“Tony said, ‘Let’s double up today,’ and it’s a great day for Tony Stewart Racing and all of our partners such as Dodge, Direct Connection and America Rebel,” said Hagan after taking the win. “We are surrounded with a great group of people and partners that can make this possible. I love seeing my teammate, Leah, jump into my arms in victory lane. I know we have come close to the ‘double’ this year, but this is the right time when we are in the ‘Countdown.’ I can’t thank Tony enough for keeping this team together and working with Dickie (Venables), Stretch (Mike Knudson), Alex (Conaway) and all of the crew guys and gals that make days like this one possible. We needed back-to-back wins at St. Louis and Dallas to go after this championship. Now, we have two more left and we are ready for them.”

The NHRA Nevada Nationals, the next event on the 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 get underway on Sunday, Oct. 29, at 11 a.m. PDT.

The Fox Sports 1 telecasts for the NHRA Nevada Nationals will take place 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.  

This story was originally published on October 16, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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