TSR Rolls Into The New England Nationals

Event Overview

Friday, June 3 (Nitro Qualifying, streamed live on NHRA.TV)

● Nitro qualifying session (Q1): 6:30 p.m. EDT

Saturday, June 4 (Nitro Qualifying, streamed live on NHRA.TV)

● Nitro qualifying session (Q2): 1:30 p.m. EDT

● Nitro qualifying session (Q3): 4:30 p.m. EDT

Sunday, June 5 (Nitro Eliminations, streamed live on NHRA.TV)

● Round 1: 11 a.m. EDT

● Round 2: 1 p.m. EDT

● Semi-Finals: 2:40 p.m. EDT

● Finals: 4 p.m. EDT

TV coverage on FS1

● Friday, June 3: Qualifying show (9 p.m. EDT)

● Saturday, June 4: Qualifying show (7 p.m. EDT)

● Sunday, June 5: Finals show (7 p.m. EDT)

Notes of Interest

● The NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway in Epping, located just southeast of the state capital in Concord, hosts the eighth event on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series’ 22-race calendar. Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) brings its two fulltime entries – one in Top Fuel for nine-time event winner Leah Pruett and one in Funny Car for three-time Funny Car champion Matt Hagan.

Dodge Power Brokers and Direct Connection return to Pruett’s Top Fuel dragster and Hagan’s Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car this weekend in Epping. The Dodge Power Brokers program serves as the exclusive source for Direct Connection, Dodge’s factory-backed performance parts program, which is equipped with staff trained to deliver a performance-focused customer service experience.

The NHRA New England Nationals will mark Pruett’s 179th career Top Fuel start and her seventh at Epping. For Hagan, the NHRA New England Nationals will be his 301st career Funny Car start and his ninth at Epping.

Pruett is looking for her first victory at the New England Nationals. She has two No. 1 qualifiers at Epping, which came in 2017 (3.673 ET at 328.86 mph) and 2018 (3.742 ET at 324.51 mph). Her 2017 run made Pruett the current track record holder for elapsed time at Epping, a mark she set on June 3.

Hagan comes into New Hampshire as the Funny Car favorite, having three career New England National wins in 2017, 2018 and 2019. In 2017, he defeated Courtney Force with a 3.897 ET at 332.59 mph (compared to Force’s 3.927 ET at 332.34 mph). In 2018, Hagan’s 4.156 ET at 292.01 mph defeated Tim Wilkerson (4.181 ET at 287.35 mph). In 2019, Hagan defeated Shawn Langdon with a 4.014 ET at 322.81 mph run (compared to Langdon’s 4.046 ET at 317.49 mph). Hagan has two No. 1 qualifiers at the event, which came in 2018 (3.932 ET at 322.03 mph) and 2021 (3.891 ET at 331.53 mph).

The New England Nationals is one of six tour events Hagan has won three times, and it is the only one he has won three consecutive times. The other races where Hagan has three wins are the two Pomona events (Winternationals and Auto Club Finals), Phoenix, Dallas and the fall race at Las Vegas.

● Hagan is the only pro driver in any category with as many as three wins at the New England Nationals. John Force, Ron Capps, Steve Torrence, Tony Schumacher and Greg Anderson all have two win apiece.

● Hagan comes into Epping leading the Funny Car championship standings with a 15-point advantage over Robert Hight. Through seven races, Hagan’s average starting position is No. 3 (Two No. 1s, a No. 2, a No. 3, two No. 4s and one No. 8). That’s the best average starting performance of his career through the first seven events.

DYK? Organized drag racing in the New England area begun in 1950 at various public and military airports in the region. In the mid-1960s, a group of shareholders purchased land in Epping and New England Dragway opened for racing on Sept. 11, 1966. The drag strip began hosting the NHRA New England Nationals in 2013.

Leah Pruett, Driver of the Dodge Power Brokers Top Fuel Dragster

Is there an added confidence racing at New Hampshire with two No. 1 qualifiers and the Top Fuel track record at New England Dragway to your credit?

“I would love to say our record there adds a huge amount of confidence, but the makeup of the Top Fuel field has changed so drastically from when we set that record, including the team and people that made that happen, with the exception of Neal (Strausbaugh, crew chief). Coming into New Hampshire, my confidence level isn’t necessarily based on earning the track record and capturing multiple No. 1 qualifiers, but more on knowing what this team is capable of, and are due for, which is having a qualifying low and a successful Sunday.”

What is your main strategy going into New Hampshire?

“Testing and continuing to run laps in various conditions. We tested after Richmond, a race that had some very challenging conditions for us to have a solid package around. Through testing, we increased our theoretical ‘GEARWRENCH toolbox of race applications’ and we feel good about our package for Epping. I can’t share what we found, but I’m glad we tested, and love where Neal ‘sand Mike’s (Domagala, co-crew chief) minds are at.”

The New England Nationals will mark the completion of the first half of the regular season, prior to the Countdown. By the end of the weekend, teams will have established their routines, so how will that help you and your crew carry momentum through the second half of the regular season?

“It will make our anticipated, long-sought-after, and deserving success that much more enjoyable and appreciative when that time comes. And once it does, we’ll be in a place to continue to do the work wholeheartedly, and let momentum do its work. This team is made up of talent, heart and faith, and we are ready to have our best weekend yet in front of our New Hampshire fans.”

Matt Hagan, Driver of the Dodge Power Brokers Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car

With three wins at New England Dragway in eight starts, what makes the track so successful for you and your crew?

“I can remember running at New England Dragway during my IHRA days and running my IHRA Funny Car there, so it has a lot of history for me. A lot of our success is because it’s a fast track with the cooler temperatures they can have in the northeast. We can run really aggressive and really hard. That’s Dickie Venables (crew chief), because he loves to throw down when the conditions are right. We’ve had a lot of luck there, having won three times in a row. It’s pretty awesome, and even though we didn’t win there last year, we’re hoping our luck there continues.”

What is your main strategy going into New Hampshire?

“We’ve had a lot of success so far this season. This is probably the most success I’ve had in my career to start off the season. I’m very blessed and thankful for that. We’re going to keep our momentum going because the car is running good and Dickie has shown that we can win on a hot racetrack and a cool racetrack this season. The guys are doing a great job. Alex Conaway (car chief) is doing a great job with the crew and putting the car together. He’s keeping everyone as one unit and keeping them happy. He’s a great leader. Everyone is trying to share information with what I’m feeling in the car and what they’re seeing on the racetrack. We’re trying to do the best job we can for Tony. We really want to pull down more races this year. We still have the points lead rolling into New Hampshire and I think we’ll leave with the points lead since we have so much success there. We’ll keep doing what we do.”

The New England Nationals will mark the completion of the first half of the regular season, prior to the Countdown. By the end of the weekend, teams will have established their routines, so how will that help you and your crew carry momentum through the second half of the regular season?

“It’s crazy to think about how we’re rolling into the halfway point in the regular season. I think our team still has the mindset of still getting going and having a lot to learn. Halfway is kind of crazy because it just feels like the season is flying by. We’ve already met a lot of great sponsors along the way this season and formed some great relationships having crossover from NASCAR partners, so I’m excited about what the second half of the season brings.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.