In a thrilling display of drag racing prowess, Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) Nitro achieved a remarkable double victory at the 2023 Texas NHRA FallNationals held at the Texas Motorplex. Leah Pruett and Matt Hagan piloted their machines to victory in the Top Fuel and Funny Car categories, solidifying TSR Nitro’s dominance in the NHRA scene.
Leah Pruett’s victory in Top Fuel was particularly spectacular as it marked her ascent to the points lead for the first time in the season. The final showdown was nothing short of breathtaking, with Pruett going head-to-head against the formidable Steve Torrence. In an impressive performance, Pruett secured the win with a quick reaction time, posting a 3.684-second run against Torrence’s 3.662 seconds. This victory marked Pruett’s 12th career win and her second of the season. It also gave her a four-point lead over Doug Kalitta, and a 13-point advantage over the third-place Torrence.
Pruett’s journey to the top of the standings had been marked by consistent determination and strategic racing. She had been meticulously analyzing her competitors and making necessary adjustments. Speaking about her victory, she expressed, “We’ve been in such a spot where we’re looking at who’s ahead of us and how to beat them. We can’t change the dynamic of what we’re doing. It does feel good. We’ve been pretty good in this sleeper spot coming up to them. And I feel like today, the pressure that we had on the last qualifying session, and the pressures that we had today, just strengthened us for that position of the team to be there.”
The victory with Matt Hagan in Funny Car added an extra layer of accomplishment for TSR Nitro. It marked the team’s first double win, an achievement they had eagerly pursued. The emotional significance of this victory was evident in Pruett’s words as she stated, “This surpasses my very first Top Fuel, the emotions that I had for it, the accomplishment of both Matt and I winning today, and what it means for Tony Stewart Racing.”
Matt Hagan’s victory in Funny Car was nothing short of remarkable. He secured a second consecutive win, marking his sixth of the season and his 49th career victory. Notably, this win propelled him back into the points lead, a position he had held three times during the regular season.
Hagan’s path to victory was not without its challenges, as he had to overcome issues with fuel pumps and other technical hurdles. However, the early elimination of key competitors, including Bob Tasca III, Robert Hight, and Ron Capps, gave Hagan a pivotal opportunity to claim the points lead.
Hagan reflected on his victory, saying, “Honestly, today was everything we could hope for. Some big heavy hitters went out early, and we were able to capitalize on that this weekend. You’ve got to dig a little deeper because those opportunities don’t come around very often.”