Tony Stewart Racing Richmond Event Recap for the PlayNHRA Virginia Nationals

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Tony Stewart, driver of the TSR Dodge//SRT Direct Connection Top Fuel Dragster:

  • Earned No. 12 provisional qualifying position in Q1 on Saturday (4.740 ET at 158.19 mph)
  • Earned No. 2 provisional qualifying position in Q2 on Saturday (3.920 ET at 315.42 mph)
  • Scored three bonus points for quickest run of the session
  • Secured No. 3 qualifying position in Q3 on Saturday (3.885 ET at 317.79 mph)
  • Scored one bonus point for third-quickest run of the session
  • Advanced to Semifinals on Sunday:
  • Round 1: 3.874 ET at 319.07 mph, defeated Clay Millican (4.104 ET at 254.18 mph)
  • Round 2: 3.907 ET at 314.53 mph, defeated Brittany Force (3.931 ET at 319.82 mph)
  • Semifinals: 4.631 ET at 180.65 mph, lost to Doug Kalitta (3.828 ET at 326.79 mph)
  • Currently ninth in the Top Fuel championship standings, 293 points behind points leader Doug Kalitta  

Matt Hagan, driver of the TSR Direct Connection Dodge//SRT Hellcat Funny Car:

  • Earned No. 5 provisional qualifying position in Q1 on Saturday (4.129 ET at 261.27 mph)
  • Maintained No. 5 provisional qualifying position based off of Saturday’s Q1 run. In Q2 on Saturday, Hagan ran a 4.140 ET at 298.01 mph. Hagan faced Austin Prock in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge, where Prock’s 4.122 ET, 315.39 mph run defeated Hagan.  
  • Secured No. 10 qualifying position based off of Saturday’s Q1 run. In Q3 on Saturday, Hagan ran a 4.170 ET at 306.88 mph.
  • Advanced to Semifinals on Sunday:
  • Round 1: 4.335 ET at 275.34 mph, defeated J.R. Todd (4.395 ET at 264.60 mph)  
  • Round 2: 4.266 ET at 252.10 mph, defeated Mike Smith (7.627 ET at 87.16 mph)
  • Semifinals: 4.031 ET at 312.42 mph, lost to Austin Prock (3.962 ET at 316.97 mph)
  • Currently third in the Funny Car championship standings, 166 points behind leader Austin Prock
  • By advancing to the Semifinals, Stewart tied for his best finish of the season, with his previous two-wide Semifinal appearance taking place at the NHRA Arizona Nationals. Stewart also advanced to the Finals in four-wide competition at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Las Vegas.
  • In the first nine races of the season, Hagan has advanced to the Finals a total of four times and has made two Semifinal appearances, collecting two wins in Charlotte and Chicago.
  • Hagan participated in his fifth Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge of the season, with his previous challenges taking place at the NHRA Arizona Nationals, NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte, Route 66 Nationals in Chicago and the NHRA New England Nationals in Epping, New Hampshire.
  • By advancing to the Semifinals at the PlayNHRA Virginia Nationals, Hagan and Stewart qualified to participate in the #2Fast2Tasty Challenge at the next event, the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals. Hagan will face a rematch against Austin Prock, for the second challenge in a row. Stewart will face off against Doug Kalitta.
  • Hagan is the current track record holder at Virginia Motorsports park for both time and speed (3.853 ET at 331.45 mph), a mark he set in 2022.
  • Stewart’s Round 1 run was the quickest ET (elapsed time) of all competitors at 3.874 seconds.

Tony Stewart, Driver of the TSR Dodge//SRT Direct Connection Top Fuel Dragster

“I’m really proud of the weekend. Nobody likes to lose and ultimately there’s only one person that wins the whole thing at the end of the day. We had one day to make three runs in qualifying with very hot track conditions. We spun the tires in the first round. We made a great run in the second round and we were low ET (elapsed time) of the round, which put us the provisional No. 2 qualifier. Conditions cooled down for Q3. By the time we ran, we had gotten bumped back, but made a good run that brought us back up to third. With the way the bracket works, the No. 3 qualifier runs the No. 14 qualifier. Normally, you’d have some confidence with that. Unfortunately, today’s No. 14 qualifier was Clay Millican and that is no easy feat racing him. He is a great competitor with a great team. When the light changes and you hit the gas, that’s when you’re really driving. But, there are a lot of things for the driver to do in the procedures of staging. When you see the pros do it well, they flicker the bulb. I had yet to do it in the Top Fuel car, until today in Round 1. It kind of threw me off because I got excited when I saw it flicker because it’s a goal to do that. That’s where you want the car to be at the line to get the best ET. I was proud and happy after the first round once I flickered the bulb and beat Clay. Unfortunately, reaction times suffered a little from it because it was a bit of a distraction that I got excited. We’ll make that better in the future. I went up against Brittany Force in the second round. It was a tough day for her family. John (Force) had a big crash with the Funny Car and we’re thinking the best for him. You feel for Brittany, Austin (Prock) and the whole Force family. Brittany and I had almost identical reaction times and this is where the team really shined today because our car out-performed her car. We had a rain delay before the Semifinals. I know what to do during sprint car races and NASCAR races during rain delays, but today was something new not knowing where to keep my energy before getting back in the car. That’s all part of being a rookie. We lined up against our buddy Doug Kalitta. We’ve raced each other for years in sprint cars and midgets. He’s the reigning World Champion, so you want to be at your best. I was happy with my reaction time, it was the best of the weekend. The car’s incrementals early were the best they’ve been in a while. Then unfortunately, it just shook the tires. I pedaled and got back into it, but you see Doug going by and he’s going by at a rate you can’t make up. It’s disappointing to lose in the semifinals, but I’m proud of this team from where we were at the end of Bristol. The conditions were hot and the track was challenging. That makes the window smaller to get the car right, but we did just that. It’s a massive accomplishment. I call it a win at the end of the day, even though we didn’t win the event.”

Matt Hagan, Driver of the TSR Direct Connection Dodge//SRT Hellcat Funny Car

“It was a hot and tricky racetrack this weekend. A lot of teams were having problems and we were having problems as well trying to keep eight cylinders lit. We didn’t qualify great, but we always seem to race great. We really fought through the cars this weekend. Even though we weren’t running as strong as we could, but that comes with keeping all eight cylinders lit. If we can do that, we’ll turn things around and win some more races along the way. I’m just trying to keep it in the groove and hang on and it’ll all come together. I do trust in my guys and I’m so proud of them. When you’re sitting in the car and can see beads of sweat dripping down their faces and arms, it makes you proud to have a team like that. It was a very challenging weekend. Our body and tires guy had some heat exhaustion, so the team had to step up and adapt to make sure all our bases were covered. Obviously, we’re also thinking about and praying for John (Force). He’s had some licks over the years and he’s one of the toughest guys we’ve ever seen. That’s why he’s still in the race car. We hope he’s okay and wish him the best. We love him to death. He’s the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time) for a reason. If anyone can bounce back from something like that, it’s him.”

The next event on the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series schedule is the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals June 28-30 at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.

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