Tony Stewart Racing: Virginia NHRA Nationals Advance

Leah Pruett & Matt Hagan
Top Fuel | Funny Car
Virginia NHRA Nationals
May 13-15 | North Dinwiddie, Virginia

Event Overview

Friday, May 13 (Nitro Qualifying, streamed live on NHRA.TV)

● Nitro qualifying session (Q1): 8:10 p.m. EDT

Saturday, May 14 (Nitro Qualifying, streamed live on NHRA.TV)

● Nitro qualifying session (Q2): 1:30 p.m. EDT
● Nitro qualifying session (Q3): 4:30 p.m. EDT

Sunday, May 15 (Nitro Eliminations, streamed live on NHRA.TV)

● Round 1: 12 p.m. EDT
● Round 2: 2:10 p.m. EDT
● Semi-Finals: 3:45 p.m. EDT
● Finals: 5:15 p.m. EDT

TV coverage on FS1

● Saturday, May 14: Qualifying show, recapping all of Friday’s action (10:30 p.m. EDT)
● Sunday, May 15: Qualifying show, recapping all of Saturday’s action (12:30 p.m. EDT)
● Sunday, May 15: Finals show (6:30 p.m. EDT)

Notes of Interest

● The Virginia NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park in North Dinwiddie, located just south of the state capitol in Richmond, hosts the seventh event on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series’ 22-race calendar. Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) brings its two fulltime entries – one in Top Fuel for nine-time event winner Leah Pruett and one in Funny Car for three-time Funny Car champion Matt Hagan – to the commonwealth in the series’ return to Virginia Motorsports Park after a two-year hiatus.

● Pruett and Hagan come into Virginia representing Mobil 1 and Smithfield, respectively. Pruett’s Top Fuel dragster carries the colors of Mobil 1, the world’s leading synthetic motor oil brand. Meanwhile, Hagan’s Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car is emblazoned with Smithfield, a vertically integrated global food company and one of the world’s largest pork producers and processors that has been headquartered in Smithfield, Virginia, since 1936.

● Pruett’s Mobil 1 livery and Hagan’s Smithfield paint scheme incorporate a patriotic theme in support of Military Appreciation Month, which is celebrated every May. TSR salutes all those who serve and have served, and honors the sacrifices made by service members and their families. Two of TSR’s crew members, Thomas Brown and Chris Shuron, are both veterans. Brown, a clutch assistant who handles tire preparation on Pruett’s Top Fuel dragster, served in the Marines where he was a lance corporal. Shuron, who oversees body and tire preparation on Hagan’s Funny Car, was a sergeant and squad leader in the Army.

● The Virginia NHRA Nationals will mark Pruett’s 178th career Top Fuel start and her third at Virginia. For Hagan, the Virginia NHRA Nationals will be his milestone 300th career Funny Car start and his fourth at Virginia.

● Virginia represents a home race for Hagan. The 41-time event winner is a native of Christiansburg, Virginia, located 190 miles west of the track. And his sponsor for the race, Smithfield, is located 72 miles east.

● Hagan comes into Virginia leading the Funny Car championship standings with a 22-point advantage over Robert Hight. Hagan’s record is 16-4 through the first six events in 2022, giving him an 80-percent win ratio to represent the best start of his career.

● Hagan and Pruett are eyeing their first victory at the Virginia NHRA Nationals, and they are both seeking their first No. 1 qualifier at the event.

Leah Pruett, Driver of the Mobil 1 Top Fuel Dragster

With two Four-Wide events in the season’s first six races – both of which came in the last three events – has it been a challenge to establish consistent routines because those events are so different?

“It has, especially for someone like me that’s been working on new, systematic practice procedures. I take every competition challenge for what they are, two-wide or four-wide, with weeks to practice and visualize to prepare for anything that comes, no matter what.”

After Virginia, there’s a two-week break before the season really heats up. Does Virginia represent a good opportunity to learn and then apply those key learnings before you begin the summer stretch where you go from the East Coast to the West Coast?

“Richmond is a key race, as we’ve continued to build data and confidence and have a greater spreadsheet. There’s no reason we can’t go deep into rounds and even win this race. It’s key because it shuts the door on the start of the season, our warm up per se, and opens our expectations of delivering results. I’m excited for that because this team is on the right track.”

Mobil 1 doesn’t just adorn your car this weekend in Virginia, it’s inside your car every weekend. In a sport decided by thousandths of a second, how important is it to have the ultimate in both efficiency and protection in not only your engine oils, but in all the oils and lubricants that flow through your Top Fuel dragster?

“Showcasing Mobil 1 on the side of the car is a symbol of the incredible protection and performance it delivers inside the Dodge HEMI. Having a reliable oil eliminates concern for mechanical damage that could be detrimental to the outcome of a race and the health and wellness of our parts. We literally have a well-oiled machine, and I’m proud to showcase that to our fans.”

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

After the Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte, North Carolina, do you look forward to getting back to the traditional, one-on-one style of drag racing this weekend in Virginia?

“I’m glad we have the four-wides behind us coming into Richmond and can focus on two-wide racing for the rest of the year because everything we do is repetition. I’m looking forward to running the Smithfield car, which is a new partner and scheme for me. I think the car looks great and I’m proud to carry patriotic colors for Military Appreciation Month. I feel confident coming into Richmond, even though we blew the tires off of it in Charlotte and went out in the second round.”

With two Four-Wide events in the season’s first six races – both of which came in the last three events – has it been a challenge to establish consistent routines because those events are so different?

“There is a lot going on at a four-wide event and it complicates things sometimes. You can be planning to run in a specific lane and at the last minute, lane choice can change. I think part of that is the reason we had the result we did at Charlotte. We can blame it on any factor we want, but at the end of the day, we went home early. I’m looking forward to two-wide racing and things feeling normal again.”

Because you’re from Virginia, does success at a Virginia track taste a little sweeter?

“At the end of the day, both the track and myself are in Virginia, so we want to keep the trophy in Virginia. I think it’s very possible the way I’m driving and the way the car is performing and responding to the changes that Dickie (Venables, crew chief) and the guys are making. I just want to say my guys are doing a great job and I’m really proud of them. I’m going to do a good job on the driving side of things and we’re going to try to go win this race.”



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

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