Tony Stewart Racing: Texas NHRA FallNationals Advance

Tony Stewart Racing

●  The Texas NHRA FallNationals at the Texas Motorplex near Dallas is the 20th race on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series’ 22-race schedule and it is the fourth round in the six-race Countdown to the Championship. Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) drivers Leah Pruett (Top Fuel) and Matt Hagan (Funny Car) are both in the Countdown, with 2022 marking Pruett’s sixth appearance in the NHRA postseason and Hagan’s 11th.

●  Pruett is 11th in the Top Fuel standings heading into Dallas, 179 points behind championship leader Justin Ashley. Hagan is third in the Funny Car standings, 103 points behind leader Robert Hight. Pruett’s best career points finish is fourth, earned three times (2018, 2019 and 2020). Hagan is a three-time champion (2011, 2014 and 2020).

●  Pruett is representing Rush Truck Centers on her Top Fuel dragster at Dallas. Hagan, meanwhile, sports the familiar silver, black and red scheme of Dodge Power Brokers on his Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car.

●  Rush Truck Centers is the largest network of commercial vehicle dealerships in the United States with 139 locations, and takes pride in its integrated approach to customer needs – from vehicle sales to aftermarket parts, service and body shop operations, plus financing, insurance, leasing and rental, as well as alternate fuel systems and other vehicle technologies. Rush Truck Centers proudly employs 2,500 talented service technicians and they are the heartbeat of its dealerships. The company is always looking to add the best and brightest technicians to its team. Service technicians interested in looking for the next step in their careers can find additional information and listings of open positions on the Rush Enterprises Technician Careers page. 

●  The Dodge Power Brokers program serves as the exclusive source for Direct Connection, Dodge’s factory-backed performance parts program, which is equipped with staff trained to deliver a performance-focused customer service experience. Dodge//SRT and Mopar have supported Hagan since his rookie season in 2009.

●  The Texas NHRA FallNationals will be Pruett’s 191st career Top Fuel start and her eighth at Dallas. For Hagan, the Texas NHRA FallNationals will be his 313th career Funny Car start and his 14th at the track.  

●  Pruett is seeking her first Top Fuel victory in the Texas NHRA FallNationals, as well as her first No. 1 qualifier at the event. She has earned the No. 2 qualifying position twice (2016 and 2019). Pruett won the Factory Stock Showdown at Dallas in 2018.

●  Hagan has three career wins at the Texas NHRA FallNationals, which came in 2010, 2015 and 2019. For his first victory in 2010, Hagan ran a 4.155 ET at 294.63 mph to defeat John Force’s 4.491 ET at 203.74 mph. In 2015, Hagan ran a 3.913 ET at 327.03 mph to defeat Ron Capps’ 3.906 ET at 322.19 mph. And in 2019, Hagan clocked a 3.909 ET at 327.59 mph to defeat Bob Tasca III’s 3.928 ET at 323.12 mph.

●  Hagan has one No. 1 qualifier at Dallas, which came in 2020 (3.860 ET at 328.54 mph). He has gone to the final round the last three years and has appeared in more final rounds in the Texas NHRA FallNationals than in any other event in the series (six times in 13 appearances). Augmenting his three wins are three runner-ups (2012, 2020 and 2021).

Leah Pruett

With three races remaining, talk about the strides you and your team have made when you look back at the start of the season.  

“We have an extremely strong core when it comes to the talented individuals working and building the car. We’ve made substantial strides in developing a tune-up for various tracks and conditions, and having a good success rate of going down the track. We’re in the current stride of segmenting our runs to pick up speed in different increments, which will equate to overall faster times and win lights.”

Texas Motorplex is awarding $15,000 in bonus money, along with qualifying bonus points, for the quickest pass on Friday night. What incentive does that add to throw down during that run?   

“I would love to be able to add in some bonus money for my guys and throw down an insane number to get that top spot. It really will come down to overall strategy for the race, at that starts with Q1. If we make a good lick on the first run, we can really run the screws for Friday night. But if we find ourselves still sorting out our tune-up, then we need to be smart and make a healthy fast run to get us solidly in the show. Risk versus reward. There’s a huge field this weekend, so going low and collecting that money for the team will mean you’ve definitely done something, in addition to setting yourself up for a more ideal raceday.”

You’re running Rush Truck Centers on your Top Fuel Dragster for the first time this season. What does it mean to welcome a new partner to the NHRA? 

“I most definitely have to give credit where it is due on this. Rush Truck Centers has been a partner of Tony’s (Stewart) for many years, especially with the sprint car program, so I really feel honored to continue that partnership and help the brand be exposed to an expanded market.”

Matt Hagan

You have three career wins at the FallNationals and you’ve appeared in more final rounds at Dallas than in any other event in the series (six times in 13 appearances). What makes you so successful there? 

“I think it’s great that Dallas has shown us so much love. Some tracks, you roll into them and have a great feeling with a good car setup. We really have to come out swinging at the Texas Motorplex. You can do the math to know you have to win two or three of these races, and there are only three races left. It’s a dogfight out there and we have to get back in the fight and work hard. If we can do well at Dallas, we can put ourselves back in the fight where we need to be.”

Texas Motorplex is awarding $15,000 in bonus money, along with qualifying bonus points, for the quickest pass on Friday night. What incentive does that add to throw down during that run?   

“It’s awesome when a track steps up and does something like this. Think about the expenses the teams have and what diesel fuel costs this year versus last year. Anytime we get an opportunity to put a little extra cash in our pocket and the team owner’s pocket, we definitely want to throw down. I’ll roll up to the starting line, put my mouth piece in and hold on tight for whatever car Dickie Venables (crew chief) puts under me. I’m excited about that and hope we can put on a heck of a show.”

You’re 103 points out of the championship lead. What’s your mindset heading into Dallas?

“Our mindset is no holds barred. We have to go in there and really swing for the fence. We have nothing to lose. Both Robert (Hight) and (Ron) Capps are good racers with good teams, so they’re going to have to struggle and we’re going to have to do well. We have to do well, no matter what. You don’t hope for someone to do bad, you just know you have to go out there and do all you can. We have to be super aggressive and try to scoop up as many points as we can in qualifying.”


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