TSR Nitro Teams Race To Semifinals At PlayNHRA Virginia Nationals

Stewart and Hagan Overcome Extreme Conditions to Reach Semifinals...

Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) Nitro teams faced some of the most challenging conditions of the season at the PlayNHRA Virginia Nationals this past weekend. With an East Coast heat dome pushing air temperatures near 100 degrees and track temperatures soaring to nearly 150 degrees, the TSR crews had their work cut out for them. Despite these extreme conditions, both Tony Stewart and Matt Hagan managed to drive their Dodge//Direct Connection cars to the semifinals.

Tony Stewart’s Strong Performance – 

Tony Stewart piloting his Mopar Direct Connection Dodge Top Fuel Dragster. (Mopar).

Tony Stewart, the NASCAR Hall of Famer and NHRA Top Fuel rookie, delivered an impressive performance. He qualified his TSR Direct Connection Dodge//SRT dragster in third place with a season-best 3.885-second run. Stewart continued to impress on race day, setting the low elapsed time in both the first and second rounds. He defeated Clay Millican with a 3.874-second run and Brittany Force with a 3.907-second run to advance to the semifinals for the third time this season.

Stewart praised his team’s efforts, particularly the adjustments made by crew chiefs Neal Strausbaugh and Mike Domagala. “I’m really proud of our weekend coming off a disappointing Bristol race,” Stewart said. “Nobody likes to lose and, ultimately, there’s only one person that wins the whole thing. We made a great run to qualify our best so far with third.”

However, a long rain delay before the semifinals altered the track conditions. Despite a strong reaction time of 0.047 seconds, Stewart lost traction against eventual race winner Doug Kalitta. “With a chance to get to our first final round, I made a sensational reaction time against Kalitta, but our car just lost traction at midtrack,” Stewart explained. “It’s disappointing to lose in the semifinals, but I’m proud of this team. The conditions were hot, and the track was challenging. I call it a win at the end of the day.”

Matt Hagan Battles to the Semifinals – 

Matt Hagan piloting his Mopar Direct Connection Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT Funny Car. (Mopar).

In the Funny Car division, defending NHRA World Champion Matt Hagan also navigated the tough conditions to reach the semifinals. Despite a challenging qualifying session, Hagan defeated J.R. Todd and Mike Smith in the early elimination rounds. In the semifinals, Hagan faced Austin Prock. Hagan had a spectacular start but ultimately lost traction, with Prock taking the win.

Reflecting on the weekend, Hagan expressed pride in his team’s perseverance. “A lot of teams were having problems, and we were having problems as well trying to keep eight cylinders lit in these conditions,” Hagan said. “We didn’t qualify great, but we always seem to race great. We’ll turn things around and win some more races soon. I have trust in my guys and I’m so proud of them.”

Hagan also took a moment to send well wishes to John Force, who had a significant crash during the event. “Obviously, we’re also thinking about and praying for John. He’s had some licks over the years and he’s one of the toughest guys we’ve ever seen. That’s why he’s still in the race car. We hope he’s okay and wish him the best.”

Next Stop – 

The TSR teams now turn their attention to the upcoming NHRA Summit Racing Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio, from June 28-30. Qualifying rounds will begin on Friday evening, with eliminations set for Sunday. Fans can catch the action on Fox Sports 1 and FOX network, with live coverage starting at 4:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday.

Robert S. Miller

Robert S. Miller is a diehard Mopar enthusiast who lives and breathes all that is Mopar. The Michigander is not only the Editor for MoparInsiders.com, 5thGenRams.com, and HDRams.com but an automotive photographer. He is an avid fan of offshore powerboat racing, which he travels the country to take part in.

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