The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series kicked off its 2023 season, and the second race took place at the Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Arizona over the weekend. The Tony Stewart Racing Nitro (TSR Nitro) team, represented by drivers Matt Hagan and Leah Pruett, had a mixed outing at the event, with one driver experiencing more success than the other.
Leah Pruett had a relatively good weekend, securing her place in the NHRA’s #2Fast2Tasty Mission NHRA Challenge for the second consecutive race. She will go up against Shawn Langdon in the competition, a rematch of their semi-final bout at Phoenix, where Pruett triumphed over Brittany Force in the second round.
Regarding her performance, Pruett said: “When you look at the results sheet from the weekend, we did not come home with the Wally win, but there are many wins that we experienced throughout the whole weekend. We were the lowest qualifier in the third session of qualifying, which allowed us to gather points. We went into eliminations in the No. 4 position and we were the low of the second round against hard-hitting cars that were also advancing. It shows our momentum is continuing. When you look at momentum, it is a product of having both magnitude and direction. We have magnitude and we have direction. All last year was finding our direction and now we are moving it forward. The consistent force is what’s going to power us to gain even more momentum. Another semifinal finish gives us four round wins in two races. That puts us back into the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge, which changes the whole dynamic of a race weekend. You feel like you are racing more than you are qualifying and that’s what we love to do.”
Pruett has had a lot of success at Phoenix over the years, boasting a 16-8 record in 10 starts at the venue. Her two wins, including her first triumph in 2016, and one No. 1 qualifier cement her position as one of the most successful racers at the track.
Meanwhile, Matt Hagan had a more difficult time at Wild Horse Pass, losing to Chad Green in the second round of the competition. However, Hagan still holds a 7-2 overall record against Green, and his name remains in the history books at Wild Horse Pass for setting a track record time of 3.823 seconds in 2022.
Hagan remains the Funny Car points leader going into the third event of the season, the NHRA Winternationals at Pomona held from March 31st to April 2nd. Speaking about his performance at Wild Horse Pass, Hagan said: “It’s been a pretty tricky weekend out there. The track has been throwing everyone for a loop. We really struggled to get our car tuned-in to get it down the track and get it pulled back enough to do that. It struck the tires both rounds today, so we have some learning to do with a hot, greasy race track and one that’s challenging for everyone. It’s one of those things where we just came off a win and made a couple rounds today, so we’ll keep that momentum moving forward. We’ll go to Pomona next weekend and go down the racetrack.”
Pruett looks to climb the points ladder in the Top Fuel category where she currently sits third in the standings.