Tony Stewart Racing: Event Recap for the St. Louis NHRA Midwest Nationals

Leah Pruett & Matt Hagan
Top Fuel | Funny Car
NHRA Midwest Nationals
Sept. 30-Oct. 2 | St. Louis

Event Recap

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

● Earned No. 4 provisional qualifying position in Q1 on Friday (3.743 ET at 325.45 mph).

● Earned No. 6 provisional qualifying position based off Friday’s Q1 run. In Q2 on Saturday, Pruett ran a 3.931 ET at 244.87 mph.

● Secured No. 11 qualifying position in Q3 on Saturday (3.729 ET at 329.18 mph).

● Ran a 3.716 ET at 327.03 mph in Round 1 of eliminations on Sunday, lost to Tony Schumacher (3.701 ET at 332.02 mph).

● Currently 11th in the Top Fuel championship standings, 179 points behind leader Justin Ashley.

Matt Hagan, driver of the Baja Vida Snacks Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car:

● Earned No. 3 provisional qualifying position in Q1 on Friday (3.896 ET at 334.98 mph).

● Earned No. 4 provisional qualifying position based off Friday’s Q1 run. In Q2 on Saturday, Hagan ran a 4.041 ET at 257.92 mph.

● Secured No. 4 qualifying position in Q3 on Saturday (3.867 ET at 335.48 mph).

● Advanced to semifinals on Sunday:

●  Round 1: 4.121 ET at 275.62 mph, defeated Jim Campbell (5.336 ET at 137.15 mph).

●  Round 2: 3.943 ET at 325.14 mph, defeated Bob Tasca III (3.968 ET at 327.51 mph).  

●  Semifinals: 3.945 ET at 330.31 mph, lost to Robert Hight (3.913 ET at 327.59 mph).

● Currently third in the Funny Car championship standings, 103 points behind leader Hight.

Notes of Interest

● Hagan advanced to the semifinals for the third week in a row.

● Hagan’s Round 2 win puts him 24-15 all-time against Tasca. It’s the fifth time this season the two have faced each other, with Hagan holding a 3-2 advantage. Tasca won against Hagan in Round 2 at Norwalk, Ohio, and in the semifinals at Topeka, Kansas. Hagan previously won against Tasca in Round 2 at Pomona, California, and in Round 2 at Reading, Pennsylvania.

● Hagan and Hight had their 43rd career meeting Sunday at St. Louis. It was the sixth time this season the two have competed against each other. Hight now leads 23-20 all-time.

● Pruett and Schumacher faced each other for the second time this season and the duo are now tied 1-1. Pruett previously defeated Schumacher in Round 1 at Epping, New Hampshire. Pruett and Schumacher had the closest side-by-side race in Round 1 of eliminations at St. Louis and had nearly identical reaction times. Pruett had a .066 and Schumacher had a .061.

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

“Gaining momentum in the Countdown has got to be one of the most challenging times of our season, so far. Last week, we pushed our machine harder than we ever had from a mechanical tune-up aspect and believed coming into St. Louis that we would find the edge. During our three rounds of qualifying, our Sparkling Ice +Caffeine machine was starting to become more reactive to our pushes and gaining improved, incremental times. We ultimately have not found a combination that works to qualify us lower in the field, which required .60s. We felt confident going into raceday that we had a reliable racecar that we could push a lot harder with, so we did. Our big moves did make our car deliver big ET improvements, as we improved our time to 3.71, but it wasn’t enough to beat out the Sarge’s (Tony Schumacher) 3.70. Our team’s package would have beat all but one other car in the first round. We ultimately were on the non-winning side of a very tight drag race. We are living in real-time the strength of this team’s commitment to delivering a highly competitive car and we have each other’s back while doing it. I’m so very proud of the quality of work my men put into this team, and we’re closer than we have been since Seattle to showing out. You can see that by the caliber of runs our competition puts up against us, knowing we’re right there.”

Matt Hagan, Driver of the Baja Vida Snacks Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car

“We have a really great racecar that is going down the racetrack. We were on the good side of a tight drag race with Tasca this morning. We seemed to come up a little short when running the points leader, Robert (Hight). We have to have those rounds to win. If we weren’t trying hard, there would be reason to be mad, but we’re all trying as hard as we can. I really believe in my team. At this point, we have to kind of wait for Robert to mess up, so that we can capitalize on that. We have to tip our hat to him because he’s been running great all year. We are the same caliber team and capable of winning. Sometimes, it just has to be your day. I was really excited to bring Baja Vida Snacks out this weekend and bring something new to the NHRA with Tony Stewart Racing. It’s great for our sport and cool to have them as a sponsor in a new environment for them.”

Next Up

The next event on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series schedule is the Texas NHRA FallNationals Oct. 13-16 at the Texas Motorplex near Dallas. It is the fourth event in the Countdown to the Championship and the third-to-last race of the season.



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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