In a spectacular display of skill and determination, Matt Hagan of Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) made history by driving his Dodge//SRT Direct Connection Hellcat Funny Car to the final win at the legendary Bandimere Speedway during the 43-year run of the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals. The thrilling event took place on Sunday, leaving fans in awe of Hagan’s exceptional performance throughout the weekend.
For the third consecutive year, Hagan claimed the top spot as the No. 1 qualifier at the iconic “Thunder Mountain” track. The weekend was filled with high-intensity action as he faced tough opponents, ultimately prevailing with an impressive 4.135-second run at 304.25 miles per hour against Alexis DeJoria in the final round. DeJoria’s valiant effort of 4.217 seconds couldn’t match Hagan’s blazing pace, securing Hagan’s fourth victory in the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series and the 47th of his illustrious career.
Hagan’s journey to victory was a testament to his unwavering determination and teamwork. He triumphed over Chris King earlier in the event and powered through a second-round bye run before facing off against reigning NHRA Funny Car World Champion, Ron Capps, in a thrilling showdown. With a remarkable starting line reaction time of 0.008 seconds, Hagan’s 4.107-second run proved too much for Capps, strengthening Hagan’s position in the NHRA Funny Car standings with a 45-point lead over his closest rival.
The weekend at Bandimere Speedway turned into a “Grand Slam” for Hagan, as he also claimed victory in the Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty Challenge for the Funny Car Class on Saturday, defeating Bob Tasca in an exhilarating face-off.
Hagan’s triumph was emotionally charged, as he reflected on the memory of his late mother on her birthday. He dedicated the win to her and recognized the significance of the race being the last time he would compete at Bandimere Speedway, especially as a Dodge-sponsored event. The track held special memories for Hagan, having experienced both highs and lows in the past. Securing the final win light at the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals added an unforgettable chapter to his storied career.
Throughout the weekend, Hagan’s crew, led by crew chief Dickie Venables, proved to be a formidable force. Despite facing challenges, including the absence of a crew member due to a previous incident, the team’s dedication and camaraderie were evident. Notably, Tony Stewart, the team owner, was also actively involved in preparing the equipment for the final round, showcasing the tight-knit bond within the team.
Hagan’s teammate, Leah Pruett, also showcased impressive performances in the Top Fuel category. Despite an extremely close first-round loss to Josh Hart, with both drivers posting identical 3.905-second passes, Pruett demonstrated her skill and determination, leaving her in the third position in the current NHRA Top Fuel point standings.
Tony Stewart, expressing his pride in the team’s accomplishments, highlighted Leah’s incredible starting line reaction time and Matt’s historic win in the final Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway.
With this momentous victory behind them, the TSR team is looking forward to the next challenge at the Flav-R-Pac NHRA Northwest Nationals, scheduled for July 21st – 23rd at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Washington. As the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series continues, fans can expect more thrilling moments and fierce competition from these extraordinary racers.