From the No. 2 position on the eliminations ladder at the Nevada Nationals, Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) driver Matt Hagan muscled his Dodge Power Brokers Funny Car to the winner’s circle at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to earn a fourth win this season and his first of the playoffs to keep his first-year team in the hunt for the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) World Championship.
“Congratulations to Matt Hagan for capturing an important win at the Nevada Nationals,” said Tim Kuniskis, Dodge Brand Chief Executive Officer – Stellantis. “It was another outstanding effort by Matt and his Tony Stewart Racing crew to get the most performance out of their Dodge Charger SRT® Hellcat and take home their fourth victory this season. What a great representation of what performance enthusiasts can expect from the Dodge lineup of vehicles and Direct Connection performance parts.”
Hagan started his race day from second place spot on the eliminations ladder and with a little Vegas luck on his side against No. 15 seed Steven Densham. After his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat had the advantage on the start, it dropped some cylinders early but Hagan kept on the throttle until he lost power and coasted across the finish line with a slim 0.0032-second margin of victory to move on to the quarterfinals.
He then took advantage of the opportunity to advance with a good side-by-side drag race against No. 10 seed Chad Green and drove the Dodge Power Brokers machine to a strong 3.909-second lap at 331.77 mph for the round win ahead of his competitor’s 3.940 sec./ 320.20 mph effort.
That set up a semifinal matchup against No. 3 seed Bob Tasca III that provided an exciting battle that began with the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat launching first with a 0.040-sec. reaction time (RT) and running a 3.924 sec/330.07 mph to beat a 0.063-sec RT and 3.904 sec./328.86 mph lap.
Hagan’s two holeshot wins were key in sending him to an important final elimination round with important championship implications against the Funny Car championship points leader and No. 1 qualifier Robert Hight. The Dodge Power Brokers Funny Car launched first and its driver never looked back on the way to turning on the win light with a 3.896 sec./330.23 mph to earn his 43rd career victory and take home a fourth Wally trophy from the Nevada Nationals in six years.
Hagan’s win comes on the heels of a playoff performance through five of the Countdown’s six events that includes three semifinal performances and two back-to-back final rounds appearances to keep his championship hopes alive.
While the three-time Funny Car world champion remains third in the playoff standings, the win over Hight cuts his deficit to 63 points from the leader heading into the points-and-a-half NHRA Finals at Pomona and two markers from fellow contender Ron Capps in second place.
In Top Fuel action, TSR’s Leah Pruett and the Dodge Power Brokers dragster qualified with a solid 3.716 sec./ 331.69 mph effort that put them in the 11th position for eliminations to set up an opening round match-up with No. 6 seed Mike Salinas. Pruett had a good run going to the dragstrip’s halfway point until the tires lost traction and she tried to pedal it to regain control. A flash of fire ended any chance of catching Salinas and extending her race day.
Sitting just outside the Top Fuel top-ten, Pruett and her crew will head to the NHRA finals looking for a good result to close out their first season together in which they earned a win at the Dodge Power Brokers Mile-High Nationals in Denver and No. 1 qualifier honors at Sonoma.
Defending Funny Car Nevada Nationals winner Cruz Pedregon came into race day at Las Vegas ninth in points and qualified 13th with his Snap-on Tools Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. After an early exit in the first round against J.R. Todd, the Cruz Pedregon Racing team is already focused on making performance gains and preparing for next season after not being involved in this year’s championship battle.
The NHRA Finals, the last of six NHRA “Countdown to the Championship” playoff events, will take place Nov. 11-13 at Fairplex in Pomona, California. FS1 will broadcast a qualifying highlights show on Sunday, Nov. 13, at 2 p.m. ET and then begin race day coverage at 4 p.m. ET to conclude with the crowning of 2022 NHRA World Champions.