The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) was shaken up last month when three-time NASCAR Cup champion, Tony Stewart announced he would be fielding two nitro entries (1 for Top Fuel, 1 for Funny Car) for the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. Stewart also announced his Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) driver lineup which consists of his now wife and the NHRA 2018 Factory Stock Showdown Champion Leah Pruett and three-time NHRA Funny Car champion Matt Hagan.
The news caused a rift in the Mopar world, with what could be the loss of the two biggest ambassadors for the Dodge and Mopar brands. Without TSR making an acknowledgment of a manufacturer for its program at the press conference, many people started discussing the possibility that Mopar and Dodge could back the new Stewart NHRA teams.
While Pruett and Stewart both toured the 33rd Annual 2021 Performance Racing Industry (PRI) show in Indianapolis, there was no indication from either Stewart or Pruett about what manufacturer would be offering factory support to the new Nitro operation. Pruett continues to showcase the progress of the work behind the scenes at the TSR Nitro shop in Brownsburg, Indiana on her social media accounts. In one post, it could be seen that Matt Hagan’s team was working on two of his “Direct Connection” NHRA Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Cars bodies, which were purchased from Don Schumacher Racing (DSR).
With both TSR Nitro and Dodge//SRT are keeping quiet about the direction of a future partnership, our biggest indication of a union between the two identities came earlier today when Dodge//SRT and Mopar released their new online catalog of performance parts for its new “Direct Connection” sub-brand.
Showcased on page #7 of the new online catalog, under the title “How to build a 10-second bracket racer” using today’s newest Direct Connection parts for the Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye was Leah Pruett. The picture of Pruett wearing her Dodge//SRT Hellcat firesuit from last year was headlined with a tag “NHRA Top Fuel driver for Tony Stewart Racing” caught our attention.
It is highly doubtful, that if Stewart’s Nitro effort switched to Ford Performance in the off-season that Dodge and Mopar would continue to highlight Pruett in their newest high-performance catalog. So, we take it as a good sign that Dodge and Mopar will continue to use Pruett and Hagan as ambassadors of their brands going forward.
We hope to hear an official announcement soon, as the 2022 Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals Presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com kick off the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing season on Thursday, February 17th, 2022.