In their first year competing in the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Camping World Drag Racing Series, Tony Stewart Racing with driver Matt Hagan at the wheel of his Dodge Power Brokers Funny Car was a championship-contending team from the start of the season to this weekend’s 57th Annual Auto Club NHRA Finals. Hitting the dragstrip with wins in three of the first eight national events, Hagan led the category through June, then took his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat into the NHRA’s “Countdown to the Championship” six-event playoff series where he proceeded to drive to three semifinal performances, a runner-up finish, and the team’s fourth win of the season.
Hagan qualified third for the season finale with the slim possibility remaining of sneaking past fellow championship contenders Robert Hight and Ron Capps in the points by wheeling his Dodge Power Brokers Charger SRT Hellcat to a final elimination appearance. In the opening round Hagan had the quicker start against No. 14 seed Steven Densham but suddenly lost traction early in the run. While Hagan tried to regain control, his opponent continued past to take the round win and ultimately ended his hopes of battling for a fourth-world title.
After a runner-up finish in the championship to Capps last year, and his third world title win in 2020, Hagan closes out the 2022 season among the top three in the Funny Car standings for a fourth straight year that also marked the tenth consecutive season with at least three wins.
Fellow Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car driver Cruz Pedregon followed up a career-best performance in qualifying that put him in the No. 2 spot for eliminations at Auto Club Raceway, with another impressive drive on race day to earn his team’s first win of the season.
“Congratulations to Cruz Pedregon for powering his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to the win at the NHRA Finals,” said Tim Kuniskis, Dodge CEO. “It’s great to see Cruz earn his 39th career Wally trophy and show enthusiasts what Dodge//SRT performance is all about.”
The Cruz Pedregon Racing team provided their owner and driver with a HEMI®-powered racecar that ran all eight passes of the weekend in the low three eighty (second) range. Pedregon eliminated Jason Rupert, John Force, and Alexis DeJoria to advance to his first final round of the season before facing off against No. 1 Qualifier and defending world champ Capps who had already passed Hight in the points to unofficially claim his second world title.
The two lined up and launched within 0.001-seconds of each other for an exciting side-by-side battle in which Pedregon recorded a career-best 3.839-second run along with his fastest career speed at 335.65 mph to earn his 39th Funny Car win. Pedregon and his Snap-on Tools Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat wrap up the season sixth in the championship standings.
In Top Fuel competition, TSR’s Leah Pruett came into race day and qualified fourth after recording her best elapsed time run of the season aboard her 11,000-horsepower Dodge Power Brokers dragster. After earning her team’s first Top Fuel win in July at the Dodge Power Brokers Mile-High Nationals in Denver, Pruett was hoping to end their first season together with another for the highlight reel.
Her opening round against No. 12 seed Alex Laughlin added a bit of drama to the day after she launched first and had a good lead when both competitors hazed their tires and had to pedal their rides. As Pruett attempted to regain traction, a booming fireball engulfed her dragster as momentum carried her to the finish line first to turn on the win light.
Pruett’s crew regrouped quickly and rebuilt the 11,000-horsepower Dodge Power Brokers dragster for their quarterfinal challenge against No. 5 seed Austin Prock. Pruett moved first against Prock with a stout 0.044-second reaction time to send her down the strip and a solid 3.721 sec. @ 324.20 mph effort against her opponent’s winning 3.704 sec. @ 329.18 mph pass en route to his event win. Pruett and her crew end up 11th in the Top Fuel championship standings, 301 points behind champion Brittany Force.
NHRA CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS STANDINGS:
Following the NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona
FUNNY CAR (season wins in parentheses)
1. Ron Capps: 2682 (5)
2. Robert Hight 2679 (8)
3. Matt Hagan (Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat): 2587(4)
4. Bob Tasca III: 2504 (3)
5. John Force: 2490 (1)
6. Cruz Pedregon (Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat): 2410 (1)
7. Alexis DeJoria: 2372 (1)
8. J.R. Todd: 2344
9. Tim Wilkerson: 2343
10. Blake Alexander: 2199
11. Jim Campbell: 2198
TOP FUEL (season wins in parentheses)
1. Brittany Force: 2596 (5)
2. Antron Brown 2534 (3)
3. Austin Prock: 2514 (2)
4. Justin Ashley: 2510 (3)
5. Mike Salinas: 2461 (4)
6. Steve Torrence: 2443 (2)
7. Josh Hart: 2419 (1)
8. Clay Millican: 2348
9. Shawn Langdon: 2339
10. Doug Kalitta: 2335
11. Leah Pruett (Dodge Power Brokers): 2265 (1)
12. Tony Schumacher: 2277(1)