The Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk witnessed intense competition and impressive performances across all Professional classes. Leah Pruett, driving the Dodge Direct Connection Top Fuel dragster, and Matt Hagan, behind the wheel of the Dodge Direct Connection Funny Car, showcased their exceptional skills and led the way for their respective Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) teams.
Leah Pruett, a force to be reckoned with in the Top Fuel category, dominated the qualifying rounds right from the start. With a blistering 3.68-second pass at 333 mph on Friday, Pruett secured the coveted No. 1 position. Despite encountering some challenges during Saturday’s runs, Pruett remained confident in her TSR Nitro team’s abilities for race day. This marked her second consecutive start from the top spot, following her provisional low qualifier achievement in Epping.
“The beauty is that we have been making really great runs, and that’s putting us in the position to gain these qualifying points and qualifying positions for a better spot to start on raceday,” said Pruett, who locked down the 15th No. 1 qualifier of her career. “We’re not disheartened about today, but frustrated a little bit. We keep finding a kaleidoscope of different ways to not have perfect runs, but at least we know what those issues are. We would have loved to have made runs today that were spectacular, but we know we have a racecar that can go the mileage on Sunday.
“It feels absolutely great to be No. 1. That’s what Tony Stewart Racing is all about, and I’m glad that our Top Fuel team has been able to up our cadence and our performance to keep up with what Tony and Matt Hagan’s teams have been able to do.”
Pruett’s phenomenal pass was nearly matched by Steve Torrence, piloting the CAPCO rail, who clocked in at 3.688 seconds, just .004 seconds behind Pruett. Torrence secured the No. 2 position, while Brittany Force and her Monster Energy dragster claimed the No. 3 spot with a 3.69. Doug Kalitta, who reached the final round of the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, grabbed the No. 4 position with a 3.70, closely followed by Austin Prock at No. 5. Josh Hart, Justin Ashley, and Mike Salinas completed the top eight qualifiers, setting the stage for a thrilling showdown.
In the Funny Car category, Ron Capps initially held the No. 1 position after an impressive 3.89 run, earning him the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge title. However, Bob Tasca III, driving the Motorcraft Quick Lane Ford, snatched the top spot from Capps with a swift 3.88 pass on Saturday. Tasca’s exceptional performance secured his third No. 1 qualifier of the season and 12th of his career. Tasca’s first-round matchup on Sunday would be against Bobby Bode.
Matt Hagan, representing the Dodge Direct Connection Funny Car, claimed the No. 3 qualifying position with a solid 3.89 run. Alexis DeJoria and Tim Wilkerson followed closely at No. 4 and No. 5, both with impressive times of 3.90. Robert Hight and J.R. Todd secured the sixth and seventh positions with identical times of 3.91. Chad Green rounded out the top eight qualifiers, securing the No. 8 spot with a time of 3.92.