Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) Top Fuel pilot Leah Pruett followed up last weekend’s win at the Dodge Power Brokers Mile-High Nationals near Denver by rolling into the 34th annual National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Sonoma Nationals and immediately taking the Rayce Rudeen Foundation Dodge//SRT® Top Fuel dragster to her first No. 1 qualifier position of the season and then driving to a quarterfinal appearance in eliminations.
Pruett took the top spot on the eliminations ladder by recording a 3.689-second elapsed time pass at 327.59 mph on the first of three qualifying laps to earn TSR’s first Top Fuel pole position and the 12th of her career. After advancing to the final round at Sonoma Raceway last year, Pruett was looking to repeat that journey and kicked off eliminations with a great 0.047-second reaction time and strong 3.729 sec./328.86 mph pass against No. 16 seed Jim Maroney.
In the quarterfinals against No. 9 seed Shawn Langdon, Pruett had another solid 3.758 sec./323.97 mph run, but it wasn’t quite enough to defeat her opponent’s 3.734 sec./330.96 mph pass. Despite the shortened day, Pruett remains sixth in the Top Fuel championship standings, tied with Langdon at 601 points.
With three wins this season and sitting second in the Funny Car points coming into the second of three consecutive western-swing events, TSR driver Matt Hagan started off the weekend by taking the DieHard Batteries Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat for a 4.018-sec./314.02 mph pass to sit in the provisional eighth spot on Friday. In Q2, he recorded the second quickest run of the session with a 4.023 sec./315.12 mph pass but ended up 11th on the eliminations ladder after hazing the tires and saving the engine on the final run.
That set up an opening round match against fellow Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat driver and No. 6 seed Cruz Pedregon. Pedregon had a slight advantage at the hit of the throttle as they raced side-by-side down the lane, and despite Hagan recording his quickest pass of the weekend, it wasn’t enough to catch the Snap-on Tools Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. Even with the early exit, Hagan retains his second place position in the Funny Car standings behind rival Robert Hight.
Pedregon continued on to the quarterfinals and lined up against No. 3 qualifier Alexis DeJoria against whom he had a stellar light with a 0.033-second reaction time, but soon lost traction and had to shut it down. The Cruz Pedregon Racing HEMI®-powered entry remains sixth in the Funny Car standings as the regular season begins to wind down with four events remaining before the “Countdown to the Championship” playoffs series begins.
The NHRA will close out the three-event western swing next weekend with the Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways near Seattle, Washington, July 29-31.