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Tony Stewart Racing: Phoenix Event Recap for the NHRA Arizona Nationals

Leah Pruett & Matt Hagan
Top Fuel | Funny Car
NHRA Arizona Nationals
Feb. 25-27 | Chandler, Arizona

Event Recap

Leah Pruett, driver of the Sparkling Ice +Caffeine Top Fuel Dragster:

● Earned No. 3 provisional qualifying position in Q1 on Friday (3.703 ET at 328.22 mph)

●  Scored one bonus point for third-quickest run of the session.

● Earned No. 4 qualifying position in Q2 on Saturday (3.725 ET at 328.14 mph)
● Secured No. 9 qualifying position in Q3 on Saturday (3.922 ET at 232.15 mph)
● Ran a 3.699 ET at 330.07 mph in Round 1 of eliminations in Sunday, lost to Josh Hart (3.705 ET at 332.10 mph)
● Currently 12th in the championship standings, 115 points behind Top Fuel leader Mike Salinas.

Matt Hagan, driver of the Dodge Power Brokers Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car:

● Earned No. 4 provisional qualifying position in Q1 on Friday (3.859 ET at 324.44 mph)
● Earned No. 4 qualifying position in Q2 on Saturday (3.861 ET at 331.36 mph)
● Secured No. 1 qualifying position in Q3 on Saturday (3.823 ET at 333.41 mph)

●  Scored three bonus points for the quickest run of the session.

● Advanced to the Finals on Sunday:

●  Round 1: 3.850 ET at 332.26 mph, defeated Terry Haddock (4.063 ET at 277.43 mph)

●  Round 2: 3.864 ET at 329.91 mph, defeated Alexis DeJoria (3.941 ET at 324.44 mph)

●  Semifinal: 3.875 ET at 332.18 mph, defeated Tim Wilkerson (3.857 ET at 333.16 mph)

●  Final: 4.045 ET at 267.00 mph, lost to Robert Height (3.837 ET at 330.39 mph)

● Currently second in the championship standings, 65 points behind Funny Car leader Robert Hight.

Notes of Interest

● In securing the No. 1 qualifying position on Saturday for the NHRA Arizona Nationals, Hagan set a new track record (3.823 ET at 333.41 mph), surpassing Courtney Force for the quickest run ever at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. It was also the quickest Funny Car run in four years, and it gave Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) its first No. 1 qualifier in just the team’s second event. It was Hagan’s first No. 1 spot of the season and the 44th of his career.

● Hagan now owns track records at five tracks on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series schedule – Phoenix; Norwalk, Ohio; Bristol, Tenn.; Indianapolis; and Topeka, Kansas.

● Hagan’s final round appearance marked the first for TSR and it came in just the second event for the organization. Last weekend’s NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California, served as TSR’s debut.

● Pruett qualified to participate in the Pep Boys NHRA All-Star Top Fuel Callout in two weeks at Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway. Her combined qualifying times from the Winternationals and Arizona Nationals earned her the sixth spot in the Callout.

Leah Pruett, Driver of the Sparkling Ice +Caffeine Top Fuel Dragster

“We had a real good draw for the first round against Josh Hart. There is no good way to lose, but as a driver, the worst possible way to lose is on a holeshot, and that’s what we had here. For me, two weekends in a row, I have mini two-stepped it, so we have a sequence of negative events that are happening for me on my side of the office. The impressive part is that this team has been able to provide us with a car that is consistent, healthy and running 3.60s. I’m most impressed with the crew members having my back, knowing that we are going to work as a team to correct what I’ve got going on up there. Personally, I’m in such a different head space and enjoying it. I think I’m wanting it more than I ever have. We’ve all put so much effort into making this operation happen and I just want to go out there and kill it. As a result, I’m just a little early (two stepping it), which results in being too late on the tree. So, I’m now looking forward to the Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout and really do not give one tiny atom of an iota of whoever calls me out or if I get to call somebody out. I’m focused on going out and getting to race somebody and fixing my problems. That’s what’s exciting to me. I’m focusing on getting my game. You probably won’t hear from me for the next two weeks as I focus on getting ready for the Gatornationals, work on a couple of different items to get back into a performance advantage in the cockpit.”

Matt Hagan, Driver of the Dodge Power Brokers Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car

“What a wonderful weekend here in Arizona. It’s just special here. I would’ve loved to have gotten the first win here for TSR with Tony and Leah and with everybody from our Radford (Racing) family here that shows us lots of love and support. What I’m most proud of this weekend is my guys. They made quick turnarounds. Nothing was falling off the racecar. They’re gelling really well and things are starting to flow. That’s huge to me, as that builds confidence. I know what Dickie Venables (crew chief) is capable of. I know we’re going to win a lot of races and get a lot of trophies and the big picture on our mind is that championship. There is still a learning curve, but one thing about Dickie, he learns fast and he’s very methodical about what we do. I feel good with our lights and the way the Dodge Power Brokers Charger SRT Hellcat is running and driving. I know Robert Hight has pulled off two wins now, but it’s just a matter of time before we start pulling in wins for TSR over here. They give us all the parts and pieces that we need. This Dodge Power Brokers Hellcat has been running strong. We sat on the pole and we’re just piecing it together little by little. Really proud of everybody in this organization. We put a hole out on the run (dropped a cylinder) trying to run really hard. We wanted to get back to that record run again and put everything back up the same way, but when you do that, you put a lot of fuel and volume in there and sometimes it’s just too much. It just didn’t go our way this weekend, but we’ve got Gainesville coming up and I’m excited about that. I haven’t yet won the Gatornationals, so I think that’s one I need to put down in my record book.”

Next Up

The next event on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series schedule is the NHRA Gatornationals March 10-13 at Gainesville Raceway.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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