Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) Funny Car driver Matt Hagan hit the throttle on the 2022 National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Camping World Drag Racing Series season by driving his Dodge Power Brokers Charger SRT® Hellcat from his No. 3 qualifying position to the semifinals at the 62nd annual Lucas Oil Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com. Also driving to a semifinal appearance at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, California, was the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat piloted by Cruz Pedregon from a fourth place seeding.
Hagan launched his season with a strong qualifying performance to secure the No. 3 spot on the eliminations ladder. He earned the fledgling TSR team’s first Funny Car round win aboard the Dodge Power Brokers Charger SRT Hellcat with a 4.071 seconds pass at 260.31 mph that saw the three-time Winternationals winner have to peddle it at the 660-foot mark but still turn on the win light. The team regrouped quickly and came back strong in the second round against No. 6 seed Bob Tasca by posting their quickest run of the weekend with a 3.885-second elapsed time run at 328.94 mph to beat his opponent’s 3.984 sec./325.77 mph effort.
The semifinal match pitted Hagan against the No. 2 qualifier Robert Hight and saw the TSR Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat take the early lead with a 0.048-second reaction time to his opponent’s 0.059-second start. Unfortunately, a dropped cylinder hampered Hagan’s on track progress and brought the team’s first outing to a close.
Meanwhile, Pedregon powered his Snap-on Tools Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat from the No. 4 spot on the ladder through eliminations with a first round win over Terry Haddock and a solid second round victory after a side-by-side drag race with Alexis DeJoria to advance to the semifinals. Paired with No. 1 qualifier Ron Capps for the next elimination round, Pedregon put in a good lap with a 3.918 sec./309.77 mph pass but it wasn’t quite enough to challenge Capps’ 3.881 sec./331.28 mph run.
Tony Stewart Racing Top Fuel pilot Leah Pruett was pleased with the first official qualifying laps of the season for the new team aboard her Dodge Power Brokers dragster to put her in the top half of the eliminations ladder with a best run of 3.768 seconds at 326.63 mph. From the No. 7 position and with lane choice over No. 10 seed Antron Brown, Pruett wheeled her HEMI®-powered machine to a solid pass at 3.748 sec./328.86 mph with a 0.118-second reaction time. However, as their first elimination run wasn’t quite enough to overtake Brown’s quicker 0.057-second start and 3.724 sec./ 327.66 mph lap and turn on the win lights for the team’s first round, the TSR team will now put their focus on preparations for the next national event. The Dodge//SRT Mopar® contingent will now head to Phoenix, Arizona, for next weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park on February 25-27.