Tony Stewart Racing Epping Event Recap for the NHRA New England Nationals

Tony Stewart Racing Photo

Tony Stewart, driver of the Rinnai Dodge//SRT Top Fuel Dragster:

  • Earned No. 10 provisional qualifying position in Q1 on Friday (3.831 ET at 322.73 mph)
  • Earned No. 8 provisional qualifying position in Q2 on Friday (3.762 ET at 323.12 mph)
  • Maintained No. 8 provisional qualifying position based off of Friday’s Q2 run. In Q3 on Saturday, Stewart ran a 3.867 ET at 320.66 mph.
  • Secured No. 8 qualifying position based off of Friday’s Q2 run. In Q4 on Saturday, Stewart ran a 3.843 ET at 322.27 mph.
  • Scored one bonus point for being the third-fastest car of the session
  • Advanced to Round 2 on Sunday:
  • Round 1: 3.973 ET at 286.25 mph, defeated Antron Brown (4.436 ET at 200.38 mph)
  • Round 2: 3.848 ET at 323.58 mph, lost to Doug Kalitta (3.841 ET at 329.67 mph)
  • Currently ninth in the championship standings, 221 points behind Top Fuel leader Justin Ashley 

Matt Hagan, driver of the Rush Truck Centers Dodge//SRT Hellcat Funny Car:

  • Earned No. 14 provisional qualifying position in Q1 on Friday (10.990 ET at 84.45 mph)
  • Earned No. 5 provisional qualifying position in Q2 on Friday (3.910 ET at 322.96 mph)
  • Maintained No. 5 provisional qualifying position based off of Friday’s Q2 run. In Q3 on Saturday, Hagan ran a 4.104 ET at 308.71 mph. Hagan faced Blake Alexander in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge, where Alexander’s 4.026 ET, 311.41 mph run defeated Hagan.
  • Secured No. 5 qualifying position based off of Friday’s Q2 run. In Q4 on Saturday, Hagan ran a 4.036 ET at 322.65 mph.
  • Round 1: 4.185 ET at 248.07 mph, lost to Ron Capps (4.045 ET at 323.89 mph)
  • Currently third in the championship standings, 68 points behind Funny Car leader Austin Prock
  • Despite losing to Kalitta in Round 2, Stewart had a quicker reaction time (0.55) to Kalitta’s .060. Stewart and Kalitta faced each other head-to-head for the first time in Top Fuel. They previously competed in the same quad at the Four-Wide Nationals in Las Vegas. The pair have motorsports history outside of the NHRA, having competed against each other in the past in sprint cars. Kalitta won the 1994 USAC sprint car championship and Stewart finished 10th that same year.
  • Stewart received his first bonus qualifying point in Top Fuel in Q4, by being the third-fastest car of the session.
  • Despite losing in Round 1, Hagan is the all-time leader in New England Nationals victories, having won four of the last seven events. During that span, he has compiled an 18-3 record. Hagan has more No. 1 starts at Epping than any other Funny Car driver with three.  
  • Hagan represented Rush Truck Centers for their first race on his Funny Car. Rush Truck Centers is the largest network of commercial vehicle dealerships in North America with 140 locations coast to coast 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 more than 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.

Tony Stewart, Driver of the Rinnai Dodge//SRT Top Fuel Dragster

“On Friday for the first qualifying session, Neal (Strausbaugh – crew chief) and Leah (Pruett) had talked to me about the past three events at this track where they blew the tires off on the first hit. So, we knew the car was de-tuned a lot, but Neal thought it would make it down the track and we could build upon that. The second run is the run that put us the eighth qualifier Friday night. Yesterday was a little warmer, so we knew we weren’t going to advance our position and knew everyone else probably wouldn’t advance either. We were able to make two solid runs yesterday. In Q3, we were the fourth-quickest car of the round. In Q4, we were the third-quickest car, which got us a bonus point. We made four solid runs in both days of qualifying. We had a little bit of an issue in the first round of eliminations today. We spun the tires pretty far out against Antron Brown. He had problems too, but had a few more problems than we had. Then, we lined up against the reigning world champion (Doug Kalitta). The deck was stacked against us that run and we were within two inches from beating him. I left on him, having an .055 (seconds) light to his .060. I hate losing just as much, if not more, than anybody. But at the same time, where we were after Chicago and having the ability to test in Indy, leaves me feeling really good about where we are. It’ll take a little bit for the sting to go away, but in the big picture, I feel like we had a successful weekend that shows our team is gaining momentum and strength. We’re getting the car in a happier place, where the window is better. My guys have their heads down for now and I want to see that as an owner. When I show up at the track, I’m no longer their owner, I’m their driver. But from the boss’ perspective, I like seeing them with their heads down a bit. But it’s my job to make sure they don’t keep their heads down for too long. You want the losses to sting. If it didn’t sting, you wouldn’t have guys that are trying hard enough and want it bad enough. I just don’t want them to leave here in that mode. We have a lot of positives at the end of the day.”  

Matt Hagan, Driver of the Rush Truck Centers Dodge//SRT Hellcat Funny Car

“We obviously didn’t want to go out the first round, but that is drag racing. We’re coming into the heat of things. We’re trying some new things with the race car and they aren’t working quite like we want it to. Anytime you change one thing, it changes six things. It’ll be part of the learning curve for the next couple races coming up. My team is very smart and they’ll figure it out. I just need to keep doing my job and the car will come around.” 

The next event on the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series schedule is the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals June 7-9 at Bristol Dragway.

Tony Stewart Racing PR

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