Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) took home their third Wally trophy of the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Camping World Drag Racing Series season after Funny Car driver Matt Hagan powered his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat from the No. 1 qualifier position to a fourth win in five years at New England Dragway.
“We’re very proud to see Matt Hagan drive the Dodge Power Brokers Funny Car to the winner’s circle at the New England Nationals and earn a third Wally this season,” said Tim Kuniskis, Dodge CEO. “It’s a pleasure to see Matt and Tony Stewart Racing continue to embody Dodge//SRT performance and highlight what Dodge Power Brokers and Direct Connection can do for enthusiasts and their rides.”
“It was just a great weekend,” said Hagan who earned his 42nd career Funny Car victory with his team’s performance at the New England Nationals. “I can’t say enough about Dickie (Venables, crew chief). Nothing really needs to be said – our Dodge Power Brokers Charger SRT Hellcat speaks for itself. Mike Knutson, Alex Conaway, all the boys wrenching on the car, they just do a great job. It’s one of those things I don’t even think about anymore because each and every one of those guys has earned my trust with my life. So when I crawl into the car, I don’t think about anything other than just leaving the starting line.“
Hagan qualified atop the eliminations ladder for a second consecutive event and a third time this season with a 3.878 second run @ 332.51 mph, then turned on the win lights against No. 14 seed Dale Creasy Jr, had a bye run in the quarterfinals, and defeated No. 10 seed, J.R. Todd, to advance to his sixth final elimination round of the year.
For a third time in eight events, Hagan lined up his 11,000-horsepower Dodge Power Brokers Charger SRT Hellcat against Robert Hight in a final, then wasted no time powering to a 3.922 sec. @ 327.98 mph lap to capture the first victory over his nemesis this year. Hagan’s third win of the season helps him maintain the lead in the Funny Car championship standings with a 41-point advantage over Hight who sits in second place with three wins of his own.
Fellow Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat driver Cruz Pedregon continued his streak of solid qualifying performances with another top-five starting position, his seventh in eight events, by taking his Snap-on Tools Funny Car for a 3.901-second lap @ 324.28 mph to earn the No. 4 spot on the eliminations ladder. He faced off against No. 11 seed Bob Tasca III in the opening round and posted a 3.948 sec. pass @ 323.74 mph to beat his opponent and advance to the quarterfinals to face No. 10 seed, J.R. Todd. Pedregon had the starting line advantage and maintained the lead to half-track when a loss of traction ruined his run and gave his opponent the opportunity to get past him.
In Top Fuel action, Dodge Power Brokers dragster pilot Leah Pruett and her TSR crew were seeking a strong performance at the New England Nationals to help break a string of early exits that have plagued the team since the start of the season. They overcame some qualifying challenges with traction issues on the first lap and then a stuck throttle at the end of the burnout in the second session that forced Pruett to continue down the track and abandon the run. Her third qualifying run was drama free with a solid 3.780-second pass @ 323.50 mph to put the Dodge Power Brokers dragster 11th on the Top Fuel eliminations ladder and set up a first-round matchup against No. 6 seed Tony Schumacher.
The Dodge//SRT HEMI®-powered machine had a solid opening round run with a 3.796-second @ 322.11 mph elapsed time to defeat Schumacher and give her lane choice in the quarterfinals against No. 3 seed Mike Salinas. However, Pruett had an uncharacteristically late launch against her opponent (a 0.125-second reaction time to a 0.081-sec. start), and her 3.807 @ 321.27 run wasn’t enough to contend for the win against Salinas’ 3.746 sec. @ 328.62 mph effort. Despite the difficult start to the season, Pruett sits just outside the top-ten in the Top Fuel standings in an 11th place tie with Antron Brown.
The NHRA will race again next weekend at the traditional Father’s Day weekend event, the Thunder Valley Nationals on June 17th through the 19th at Bristol Dragway in Tennessee, for the 9th of 22 national events this season.
NHRA CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS STANDINGS:
Following the NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway
FUNNY CAR (season wins in parentheses)
1. Matt Hagan (Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat): 797 (3)
2. Robert Hight: 756 (3)
3. Ron Capps: 634(1)
4. John Force: 507
5. Cruz Pedregon (Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat): 452
6. J.R. Todd: 331
7. Bob Tasca III: 386
8. Alexis DeJoria: 362
9. Chad Green: 321
10. Tim Wilkerson: 311
TOP FUEL (season wins in parentheses)
1. Brittany Force: 668 (3)
2. Mike Salinas: 638 (3)
3. Steve Torrence: 569
4. Justin Ashley: 561 (1)
5. Austin Prock: 425
6. Clay Millican: 396
7. Josh Hart: 376
8. Doug Kalitta: 373
9. Shawn Langdon: 341
10. Tony Schumacher: 329
11. Leah Pruett (Dodge Power Brokers): 294
11. Antron Brown: 294