Tony Stewart Racing Event Recap for the Menards NHRA Nationals presented by PetArmor

Tony Stewart Racing Photo

Leah Pruett, driver of the Rayce Rudeen Foundation Top Fuel Dragster:

  • Earned No. 4 provisional qualifying position in Q1 on Friday (3.834 ET at 293.41 mph)
  • Maintained No. 4 provisional qualifying position based off of Friday’s Q1 run. In Q2 on Saturday, Pruett ran a 4.102 ET at 243.68 mph.
  • Secured No. 2 qualifying position in Q3 on Saturday (3.768 ET at 325.77 mph)
  • Scored two bonus points for second-quickest run of the session
  • Eliminated following Round 2 on Sunday:
  • Round 1: 3.821 ET at 324.05 mph, defeated Lex Joon (3.986 ET at 304.87 mph)
  • Round 2: 3.794 ET at 325.92 mph, lost to Justin Ashley (3.752 ET at 327.35 mph)
  • Currently fifth in the Top Fuel championship standings, 275 points behind Top Fuel leader Justin Ashley  

Matt Hagan, driver of the American Rebel Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car:

  • Earned No. 7 provisional qualifying position in Q1 on Friday (4.040 ET at 312.93 mph)
  • Maintained No. 7 provisional qualifying position based off of Friday’s Q1 run. In Q2 on Saturday, Hagan ran a 4.065 ET at 302.75 mph. Q2 was also part of the NHRA’s Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge, where Hagan faced J.R. Todd. Hagan defeated Todd’s 4.307 ET, 219.83 mph run. 
  • Scored two bonus points for second-quickest run of the session
  • Secured No. 3 qualifying position in Q3 on Saturday (3.960 ET at 318.24 mph). Q3 also served as the NHRA’s Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge Finals, where Hagan faced Chad Green. Hagan defeated Green’s 4.039 ET, 313.73 mph run. 
  • Scored three bonus points for quickest run of the session
  • Advanced to the Finals on Sunday:
  • Round 1: 4.039 ET at 283.85 mph, defeated Alex Laughlin (4.705 ET at 260.01 mph)
  • Round 2: 3.987 ET at 317.64 mph, defeated Tim Wilkerson (3.988 ET at 322.88 mph)
  • Semifinals: 3.933 ET at 329.34 mph, defeated J.R. Todd (3.945 ET at 323.12 mph)
  • Finals: 3.965 ET at 329.18 mph, lost to Bob Tasca III (3.885 ET at 332.26 mph)
  • Currently leading the Funny Car championship standings, 61 points ahead of Ron Capps

  • Hagan advanced to his 85th career final round at the Menards NHRA Nationals.  
  • Despite losing in the Finals, Hagan has the best percentage of drivers who raced all eight “last” races (19-6) at 76% – Memphis (2009), Englishtown (2017), Atlanta (2021), Richmond (2022), Houston (2022), Phoenix (2023), Denver (2023) and Topeka (2023).
  • Hagan was the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge Funny Car winner. It marked his second #2Fast2Tasty win of the season in four appearances. His three previous appearances came in the NHRA Arizona Nationals, the Route 66 NHRA Nationals and his win at the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals.
  • By advancing to the Semifinals, Hagan qualified to participate in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge at the next NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series event, the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, where he’ll face J.R. Todd.
  • At 138 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday, 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. On Saturday during Q2, the track reached 145 degrees Fahrenheit at 1,000 feet down the track.
  • Hagan represented American Rebel on his Funny Car for their first race as a primary sponsor in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. American Rebel builds one of the most desirable residential safes on the market. Their Black Smoke safes come in six different sizes. They are specifically designed to meet the needs of homeowners and firearm aficionados. American Rebel positions itself as “America’s Patriotic Brand.” They recognize a growing need to protect yourself, your family, your neighbors or even a room full of strangers. That need is in the forethought of every product they design. 
  • Pruett represented the Rayce Rudeen Foundation on her Top Fuel Dragster. The Rayce Rudeen Foundation is a non-profit organization that works with organizations and programs to encourage a healthy and productive life that is free of addiction. The designated 501(c)(3) is named in honor of Rayce Rudeen, who at age 26 passed away from an accidental Fentanyl overdose. Since its inception, the Rayce Rudeen Foundation has advocated for creating a supportive community in which everyone can access prevention, treatment, recovery and family-support services, all free from stigma. By collaborating with local universities, researchers, organizations, businesses and community coalitions, the Rayce Rudeen Foundation is leading communities toward a united and compassionate response to addiction by identifying gaps in care and building educational tools.
  • The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series visited Heartland Motorsports Park for the final time. When Heartland Motorsports Park opened in 1989, it was the first new auto racing facility to be built in the United States in 20 years. Located on the south side of Topeka, the facility covers approximately 650 acres and includes an NHRA-sanctioned quarter-mile drag strip, a 2.5-mile road course with four different configurations, a 22-acre asphalt pad for autocross and drift events, and a motocross track. Though the Menards NHRA Nationals marked the final NHRA national event, the venue will continue to host racing and other events during the rest of 2023.

Leah Pruett;

“Going into Topeka, we were fifth in points and we’re leaving fifth in points. It just shows how strong this entire field is. Most importantly for us coming off of the (Western) Swing, we wanted to regroup and get our performance package together. Qualifying number two was very strong and what we were aiming for. When you have a full field of cars versus 13 or 14 cars, that first round is important and we made our own luck by qualifying number two and getting a lucky break racing Lex Joon. We had a power level deficiency in the first round from start to finish. For us to still get the win light was a testament to proper positioning in qualifying. To turn around and run Justin Ashley in round two always brings out the best in me. Our best wasn’t quite enough to get around him, but it all comes back to qualifying and where you start and the momentum you have. Momentum is not something magical. It takes a lot of work and persistence. We learned a lot from the mishap in qualifying and the mishap in the first round. It’s your fault if you don’t learn something from them. It exposed things with our car and setup, which excites us. It creates a bigger window for moving on. Everything happens for a reason. Unfortunately, we didn’t go the rounds we were wanting to, but we are in the thick of things and in the thick of the points. We have a very strong race car and an even stronger team coming out of this. We were happy to make a solid presence for the Rayce Rudeen Foundation this weekend.”

Matt Hagan;

“It was great to have American Rebel as a new sponsor this weekend. What an amazing weekend to have a new group on-board and be able to take them to the final round. I hate that we didn’t get it done in the Finals. (Bob) Tasca III really stepped up against us and did well. It’s great to have new blood in the NHRA with American Rebel. They’re a great group and we loved having their support at the track all weekend. It was a good points weekend for us being able to put a 61-point lead on (Ron) Capps. You have to take away the positives each weekend. I can’t wait to get to Brainerd and keep the momentum going. We’ve been very consistent all year long and I think we’re going to continue that the rest of the year. Hopefully we go a lot more rounds and see a lot more win lights come on. My crew did an amazing job this weekend with the tricky track conditions. We had one extreme to another with hot conditions to cool air in the Final. Dickie (Venables – crew chief), Mike (Knudsen – co-crew chief) and Alex (Conaway – car chief) adapt to changing conditions. Congratulations to Tasca. They did a great job and we just got outran out here. We have great sponsors and a great team. We’re hopefully going to chase down this championship and win number four.”  

Next Up;

The next event on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series schedule is the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals August 18-20 at Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway.


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