- The Texas NHRA FallNationals at the Texas Motorplex near Dallas is the 19th race on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series’ 21-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 2023 marking Pruett’s seventh appearance in the NHRA postseason and Hagan’s 12th.
- Pruett is second in the Top Fuel standings heading into Dallas, 47 points behind championship leader Doug Kalitta. It marks her highest standing since September 27, 2020, when she was second entering eliminations at the NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida. Hagan is third in the Funny Car standings, 13 points behind leader Bob Tasca III. 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 and Hagan come into Dallas representing Mobil 1 and American Rebel, 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 American Rebel, 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.
- The Texas NHRA FallNationals will be Pruett’s 205th career Top Fuel start and her ninth at Dallas. For Hagan, the Texas NHRA FallNationals will be his 330th career Funny Car start and his 15th 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. She is coming off of a runner-up finish at the previous event, the NHRA Midwest Nationals.
- Hagan is coming off of a victory at the NHRA Midwest Nationals in St. Louis, which marks his 14th win in the Countdown, second only to Robert Hight (15) among Funny Car drivers.
- 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 two No. 1 qualifiers at Dallas, which came in 2020 (3.860 ET at 328.54 mph) and 2022 (3.825 ET at 334.85 mph). He has gone to the final round the last four years and has appeared in more final rounds in the Texas NHRA FallNationals than in any other event in the series (seven times in 14 appearances). Augmenting his three wins are four runner-ups (2012, 2020, 2021 and 2022). Hagan has lost in the final round of the last three FallNationals by an average margin of .015 of a second.
- Texas Motorplex is bringing back “Friday Night Live” at this year’s FallNationals, which offers more than $40,000 in bonus money to the stars in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle. The low qualifier on Friday night in both Top Fuel and Funny Car will be awarded $15,000 each.
You’re coming off of a runner-up finish at the NHRA Midwest Nationals, which propelled you to second in the point standings. With three races remaining, talk about your mindset heading into Dallas.
“We have proven to have a consistent race car on race days, and we are working on getting that consistency locked-in earlier during qualifying to get those small points, and overall better qualifying position. It is only going to get more difficult from here. We’re looking to move up in the points, which takes rounds. We have heavy hitters breathing down our backs by just a handful of points, so the mindset is to keep pressing on in the ways we know work and have worked all season to get to this point.”
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?
“For us, getting that additional qualifying run back is huge, as we need to make up small qualifying points and that is what that extra run allows for. We want to come off the trailer solid and improve for Friday night. The extra $15,000 is helpful, as it covers the cost of that ‘extra’ run, but I believe the standard points that go with it, and getting a Q1 (number one qualifier) before the session that most likely sets the field is just as substantial. I love that it adds flare for the fans. The goal is to get on the bull and not get kicked off.”
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 (seven times in 14 appearances). What confidence does that give you heading into Dallas, combined with your win at the NHRA Midwest Nationals?
“Dallas is one of those tracks that you’ve done well enough at, you hope it helps to keep pushing you towards the front of the line. We are still behind in the points lead, so we have to keep working hard to get the lead back. Going into St. Louis, we knew we had to win that race. It just speaks volumes about my team and Dickie Venables (crew chief). We know there is that same pressure coming into Dallas. The stats are great, but at the end of the day, conditions can always be different. Dickie and Stretch (Mike Knudsen – co-crew chief) have a lot of great data on the car. We just have to go out there and push hard and be aggressive. I still think you have to win two or three races in the Countdown to have a chance at winning the championship. I think all the laps and success we have at Dallas will work to our advantage, so we just have to go back through our notes and see what we can do.”
Texas Motorplex is awarding $15,000 in bonus money, along with qualifying bonus points, for the quickest pass on Friday night. You took home the bonus last year, so what incentive does that add to throw down during that run to make it two in a row?
“Any extra money we can get for our guys is huge and it goes a long way. They bust their butts and they deserve it. I know Dickie knows how to push, so I’m excited about it. We took the money home last year, which was special. It’s memories you make and a little extra in the crew’s pocket. I think we’ll have the best car out there for a repeat. I’m looking forward to getting back in the saddle again.”
Tony Stewart Racing PR