Tony Stewart Racing: Topeka Event Recap for the Menards NHRA Nationals

Leah Pruett & Matt Hagan
Mopar 85th Anniversary Top Fuel & Funny Car Drivers
Menards NHRA Nationals presented by PetArmor
Aug. 12-14 | Topeka, Kansas

Event Recap

Leah Pruett, driver of the Mopar 85th Anniversary Top Fuel Dragster:

● Earned No. 7 provisional qualifying position in Q1 on Friday (3.804 ET at 316.97 mph).

● Maintained No. 7 qualifying position from Q1. Pruett’s Q2 run on Saturday was 3.880 ET at 317.12 mph.

● Secured No. 7 qualifying position based off Friday’s Q1 run. In Q3 on Saturday, Pruett ran 3.834 ET at 315.64 mph.

● Advanced to Round 2 on Sunday:

●  Round 1: 4.161 ET at 264.70 mph, defeated Doug Foley (5.149 ET at 139.75 mph).

●  Round 2: 4.810 ET at 225.26 mph, lost to Justin Ashley (3.843 ET at 317.57 mph).

● Currently sixth in the Top Fuel championship standings, 396 points behind leader Brittany Force.

Matt Hagan, driver of the Mopar 85th Anniversary Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car:

● Earned No. 4 provisional qualifying position in Q1 on Friday (3.943 ET at 320.58 mph).

● Maintained No. 4 qualifying position from Q1. Hagan’s Q2 run on Saturday was 6.494 ET at 103.86 mph.

● Secured No. 4 qualifying position based off Friday’s Q1 run. In Q3 on Saturday, Hagan had a clutch malfunction and was unable to make a run.

● Advanced to Semifinals on Sunday:

●  Round 1: 3.944 ET at 316.52 mph, defeated Chad Green (4.155 ET at 306.26 mph).

●  Round 2: 3.999 ET at 312.71 mph, defeated Paul Lee (7.341 ET at 86.41 mph).

● Semifinals: 4.406 ET at 223.06 mph, lost to Bob Tasca III (4.011 ET at 316.30 mph).

● Currently second in the Funny Car championship standings, 237 points behind leader Robert Hight.

Notes of Interest

● At 140 degrees Fahrenheit, this weekend’s Menards NHRA Nationals presented by PetArmor at Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka, Kansas, was home to the hottest track conditions the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series has endured this season.

● Hagan clinched his position in the Countdown to the Championship by maintaining his second-place standing in points.

● Pruett’s Round 2 appearance maintained her sixth-place standing in points with two races remaining before the six-event Countdown to the Championship begins with the Pep Boys NHRA Nationals Sept. 15-18 at Maple Grove Raceway in Mohnton, Pennsylvania.

● Pruett’s Top Fuel dragster and Hagan’s Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car featured a Mopar 85th Anniversary scheme, which will also be highlighted during next weekend’s NHRA Nationals at Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway.

Leah Pruett, Driver of the Mopar 85th Anniversary Top Fuel Dragster

“Sometimes you would rather have a little bit of luck on your side, and that’s what we had going into eliminations today. We’ve gotten into a comfortable spot with the car because it’s been acting so well to be able to push, and we pushed a little too hard in E1. We smoked way down the track and I was able to pedal twice and recover, which pedaling hasn’t particularly been my forte. It’s something we’ve been working on as a team and that worked out for us right there. In E2, we had a compound throttle mounting malfunction that hindered our performance after the line. Even though the results don’t quite show it with the win lights, it’s one of the best reacting cars that we’ve had all year. We’re making a lot of headway. We’re finally able to reference other tracks now and other situations and build on that. That’s something for the first quarter of the year we weren’t able to do. As we finish out the second quarter, we’re really scaling up our drive.”

Matt Hagan, Driver of the Mopar 85th Anniversary Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car

“I could definitely taste the final today and wanted it bad up there. Coming off the Western Swing where we had three first-round exits, I’m really pleased with the momentum we had and the direction we were able to turn the car around in. Qualifying was everything, so it was great qualifying fourth to be in the top-half of the bracket and have a good ladder. We have to stay focused on that Friday night hit and put ourselves in a position to be good for the rest of the weekend, since we’re seeing some hot racetracks that make the conditions a bit tougher on Saturday. Unfortunately, something went wrong there in the semifinals. There was some type of ignition issue. It didn’t really fire off on all cylinders. It wasn’t the typical car we had all weekend. I kind of knew something was wrong off the bat, then some cylinders went out and I had to click it off early, so I didn’t hit the wall. My guys are going over everything with a fine-toothed comb to figure out what it was to get ready for Brainerd. Brainerd can sometimes be cool out there, so it’s one of those racetracks where Dickie Venables (crew chief) really shines.”

Next Up

The next event on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series schedule is the NHRA Nationals Aug. 18-21 at Brainerd International 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 SpeedwayMedia.com.

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