Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) pilot Matt Hagan drove the Dodge Power Brokers Charger SRT Hellcat to his first-ever National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Camping World Drag Racing Series’ Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals win and provided his team with their first nitro victory. Hagan earned the coveted Gatornationals Wally trophy in his 14th attempt after powering his way through the elimination rounds to advance to the team’s second consecutive final round appearance in just its third national event and reached a 40th career Funny Car victory milestone.
“Congratulations to Matt Hagan and the Tony Stewart Racing team for their first win of the 2022 season aboard the Dodge Power Brokers Funny Car at the NHRA Gatornationals,” said Tim Kuniskis, Dodge CEO. “It’s great to see Matt earn his 40th career win and continue to demonstrate what Dodge//SRT performance looks like and what enthusiasts can expect from Dodge Power Brokers and Direct Connection.”
“Our NHRA Nitro team is appreciative of the long-standing relationship our drivers Matt Hagan and Leah Pruett have had with Dodge//SRT and Mopar,” said team owner Tony Stewart. “Everyone in racing knows the value of OEM support and its importance to a team’s success, so we’re pleased to have that relationship with Dodge in drag racing and how that quickly culminated in our first Funny Car win at the NHRA Gatornationals.”
TSR’s first national event win puts Stewart on an exclusive list of team owners with victories in both NHRA and NASCAR series that includes Ray Beadle, Kenny Bernstein, Joe Gibbs, and Jack Roush.
After wet and unseasonably cold weather disrupted most of the weekend schedule and limited qualifying to just one session for the nitro categories, Hagan’s sole qualifying pass of 3.898 seconds @ 320.13 mph put the Dodge Power Brokers Funny Car No. 4 on the eliminations ladder for the 53rd edition of the famed event.
His opening round pairing against No. 13 seed Dave Richards saw him launch his 11,000-horsepower machine off the line first, but an immediate loss of traction had Hagan skillfully pedaling it before regaining control and turning on the first win light. A solo run in the quarterfinals after Terry Haddock broke on the burnout was followed by a solid 3.894-second run @ 332.84 mph to defeat Chad Green and advance to the final elimination. Hagan powered to a 3.910-second @ 330.96 mph run aboard his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to defeat No. 6 seed Blake Alexander and earn the win he had been looking forward to providing his new team and the trophy he had yearned for.
“To get this first win at the Gatornationals and Tony Stewart’s first win in a drag car, it’s pretty awesome,” said the three-time NHRA Funny Car World Champion. “He wants to be here, and it says a lot for our sport. It was a good weekend for Tony, a good weekend for NHRA and I’m just very blessed and humbled to be here. I want to make sure I’m showing up on the starting line and doing my part and I just know what this team is capable of. It’s a lot of tough competition, but as a driver that’s exciting.
“It just was a big weekend for me personally because I’ve been wanting to win this race and check it off on my career box, and I think this allows me to accomplish everything I’ve ever set out to do in NHRA.”
Sunday’s action asl saw No. 3 qualifier Cruz Pedregon take his Snap-On Tools Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car for another solid drive recording a 3.914-second run @ 326.95 mph in the opening round to turn the win lights on against No. 14 seed Jim Campbell and advance to the quarter-finals. Pedregon staged his HEMI-powered machine next to No. 6 seed Blake Alexander, but hit the throttle too soon, turning on the red light and ending his run through eliminations.
With weather delays and the shortening of Top Fuel qualifying to just one session, the remaining two elimination rounds of the Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout has been rescheduled to take place at the Dodge Power Brokers U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis in September. Unfortunately, TSR pilot Leah Pruett’s traction issues in the first round of the specialty race eliminated her from advancing and also meant that her sole qualifying lap aboard the Dodge Power Brokers dragster wasn’t going to provide her the chance to stage for the elimination rounds. The team will refocus their efforts on the upcoming NHRA Four-Wide Nationals set to take place at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway from April 1st to 3rd.
Record-breaking performances in the only Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown (FSS) qualifying session on Saturday were highlighted by the 2021 Dodge Challenger Mopar Drag Pak setting the category’s quickest and fastest run ever. An impressive 7.608-second elapsed time pass @ 183.15 mph by Mark Pawuk and his Empaco Equipment Mopar Drag Pak reset both ends of the national record and put him in the No. 1 qualifier position.
Pawuk’s HEMI-powered machine had a red-light start in the quarterfinals to end his day, while No. 3 qualifier Warren Walcher advanced his 2021 Mopar Drag Pak to the semi-finals in just his second FSS competition after his posting his own impressive qualifying performance (7.669 sec. @ 180.79 mph) which also was quicker than the previous national elapsed time record (7.718 seconds). Ultimately, Walcher’s efforts were all for not when a technical issue hampered his team’s ability to make the call to stage for another round of competition.