TSR Preps For Pomona

Event Overview

Friday, Nov. 11 (Nitro Qualifying, streamed live on NHRA.TV)

● Nitro qualifying session (Q1): 1 p.m. PST/4 p.m. EST

● Nitro qualifying session (Q2): 4:15 p.m. PST/7:15 p.m. EST

Saturday, Nov. 12 (Nitro Qualifying, streamed live on NHRA.TV)

● Nitro qualifying session (Q3): 12:30 p.m. PST/3:30 p.m. EST

● Nitro qualifying session (Q4): 4 p.m. PST/7 p.m. EST

Sunday, Nov. 13 (Nitro Eliminations, streamed live on NHRA.TV)

● Round 1: 11 a.m. PST/2 p.m. EST

● Round 2: 1:05 p.m. PST/4:05 p.m. EST

● Semifinals: 2:40 p.m. PST/5:40 p.m. EST

● Finals: 4:10 p.m. PST/7:10 p.m. EST

TV coverage on FS1

● Sunday, Nov. 13: Qualifying show recapping Friday’s and Saturday’s action (2 p.m. EST)

● Sunday, Nov. 13: Finals show (4 p.m. EST)

Notes of Interest

This weekend’s Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona is the 22nd and final race on the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series’ schedule, and the iconic California venue is where the six-race Countdown to the Championship culminates. Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) drivers Leah Pruett (Top Fuel) and Matt Hagan (Funny Car) both made the Countdown in 2022, with Pruett securing her sixth Countdown appearance while Hagan earned his spot in the NHRA postseason for the 11th time.

Pruett enters Pomona 12th in the Top Fuel standings, 257 points behind championship leader Brittany Force. Hagan, however, is still in title contention. The three-time champion is third in the Funny Car standings, 63 points behind leader Robert Hight.

Hagan kept his title hopes alive with an impressive win in the series’ prior race Oct. 30 at the NHRA Nevada Nationals in Las Vegas. Hagan defeated Hight in the finals, with his run of 3.896 ET at 330.23 mph proving decisive over Hight’s 6.157 ET at 111.12 mph. It was the 44th career meeting between Hagan and Height and the seventh time this season the duo have competed against one another. Hight still leads 23-21 all time, but Hagan looks to get another step closer to evening that score this weekend at Pomona.

● Hagan’s Funny Car win two weeks ago at Las Vegas was the 43rd of his career, his fourth of the season and his fourth at the NHRA Nevada Nationals. It also marked consecutive final round appearances for Hagan, as he advanced to the finals in the NHRA’s event the week before in Dallas, where he lost to Ron Capps.

Hight, Capps and Hagan are the Funny Car triumvirate still in championship contention. Hight leads, with Capps 61 points arrears and Hagan 63 points back. These three drivers have combined for six of the last eight Funny Car titles. Hight is a three-time champion (2009, 2017 and 2019). Capps is the two-time and reigning Funny Car champion (2016 and 2021). Hagan earned his titles in 2011, 2014 and 2020. If Hagan secures a fourth title, he will join a select group of four-time champions – Don Prudhomme, Kenny Bernstein and John Force.

● Every single Funny Car pass Hight, Capps and Hagan make this weekend in Pomona matters. The finale delivers points-and-a-half, meaning both Capps and Hagan can get to within two rounds of Hight if they close their respective gaps to less than 60 points during the four rounds of qualifying.

● The Auto Club NHRA Finals will be Hagan’s 315th career Funny Car start. It’ll be his 27th overall start at Pomona and his 13th in the NHRA Finals.

● Earlier this year when the NHRA opened its season at Pomona Feb. 18-20, Hagan secured the No. 3 qualifying position and advanced to the semifinals on Sunday, where his run of 4.026 ET at 317.64 mph fell short of Hight’s 3.681 ET at 332.10 mph mark.

● Hagan has three career wins at the NHRA Finals (2017, 2019 and 2020). In his first victory in 2017, Hagan ran a 3.942 ET at 329.42 mph to defeat Courtney Force (4.020 ET at 320.00 mph). In 2019, Hagan ran a 3.876 ET at 331.36 mph to defeat Jonnie Lindberg (3.945 ET at 321.12 mph). And in 2020, Hagan clocked a 3.914 ET at 326.40 mph to defeat Capps (4.463 ET at 173.70 mph).

● Hagan has two No. 1 qualifiers at the NHRA Finals, which came in 2009 (4.030 ET at 313.88 mph) and 2014 (3.983 ET at 322.42 mph).

● Hagan has had more success at Pomona than at any other track on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series schedule. He is a six-time winner at Pomona – three times in the season-opening Winternationals and three times in the season-ending NHRA Finals. He is a combined 43-20 in those two events with a winning percentage of 68.2. Although he hasn’t won the season finale since 2014, Hagan has gone to the semifinals the last two times the race was contested (2019 and 2021).

● The NHRA Finals will be Pruett’s 193rd career Top Fuel start. It’ll be her 16th overall start at Pomona and her sixth in the NHRA Finals. Pruett’s Top Fuel debut came at Pomona in the 2009 Finals.

● Pruett is seeking her first Top Fuel victory at the NHRA Finals, with her best result coming in 2019 when she advanced to the semifinals and lost to Doug Kalitta. However, Pruett has two victories at Pomona, winning the Winternationals in 2017 and 2021. Pruett has one No. 1 start at the NHRA Finals, which came in 2018 (3.631 ET at 332.84 mph).

● Pomona serves as a homecoming for Pruett as she grew up approximately 35 miles east of the track in Redlands, California.

● Dodge Power Brokers and Direct Connection return to Pruett’s Top Fuel dragster and Hagan’s Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car this weekend at Pomona. 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.

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

Looking back on the season, what was the most memorable moment for you and how special was it to be a part of TSR’s inaugural season?

“My most memorable moment of this season has got to be a collage of moments from the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals in Bandimere. Specifically, the first qualifier, where we were testing new components at our first Mile-High race and ultimately blew the tires off harder than we ever had and were able to immediately make wholesale adjustments that provisionally put us in the No. 1 spot. From there, we worked on consistency. On raceday, we had a very potent potluck of a good running racecar, I was solid on the tree, winning a couple peddlefests, with a sprinkle of luck to cap the day off in the winner’s circle. Our whole season of highs and lows could be illustrated in that one race, which is why it is so memorable, besides it being our first TSR Top Fuel Wally.”

Pomona serves as a homecoming for you and is a track where you’ve captured two Top Fuel victories. How special would a win be to close out the year?

“Despite my two wins at the Winternationals, I’ve never won the World Finals before. However, I can very well imagine the amount of confidence that would basically be delivered intravenously to the team. It would be particularly special to finish this first season strong and capture another win for Dodge.”

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

Looking back on the season, what was the most memorable moment for you and how special was it to be a part of TSR’s inaugural season?

“It has been a real honor to drive for Tony Stewart Racing this year and I’m looking forward to next year also. Everything Tony has taken on has been great and he’s amazing to work for. He’s a great boss. Obviously, we’re in the hunt to win TSR its first championship this weekend, so that would be huge. It’s an uphill battle and we have to come out swinging. We have to gather up those small points to keep it under 60 (points) over two rounds to win. In 2010 when I was the runner-up, all I had to do was show up and go two rounds to win. I was eliminated in the first round, so (John) Force won the championship. I’ve been on Robert’s (Hight) side of it and lost it, so that’s why we’re going to go out there and dig deep to still give ourselves a shot. It’s still very possible. As for the organization as a whole, Tony is great. It’s been awesome to see him smile so much and so happy at the racetrack. With everything he has going on, he shows up and is committed to what we’re doing out here. It says a lot and I’m excited for what the future brings. I’m honored to drive a car for him. He’s a guy you respect, want to win for and look up to. He’s accomplished so much in different sports. It was great to see him come off his first NHRA race in the Top Alcohol dragster and advance to the finals. It looks like he got bit by the drag racing bug, like we all have here. It’s a great sport and it’s a fun sport. I’m glad Tony came over here and saw that and we hope other people do the same. At the end of the day, I’m happy to be a part of it and excited for what the future brings. I think we’ll be in the mix of things for a long time to come. We just have to keep pushing hard and turning win lights on and things will fall into place.”

Will you approach the season finale any differently than other races this year?

“We can’t approach the season finale any different, because Robert Hight has put 63 points on us. And Capps is in the same position, only being two points ahead of us. You have to get those small qualifying points. It’s not like you can lay back and have the strategy of trying to get him (Hight) early. You have to gather up the small points in qualifying to make the battle under 60 points. We’ve put ourselves in the position where we have no choice but to try and scoop up four points in qualifying to get it under 60 points once we go rounds. We’ll then have a two-round difference, out of four rounds. We’ll see where the cards fall. We just have to go out there and run what we run. Hopefully, he’ll have a bad race and we have a great one. At the end of the day, I’m proud of my team. I’m proud of Dickie Venables (crew chief), Mike Knudsen (co-crew chief), Alex Conaway (car chief) and all the guys putting the car together. They’ve done a phenomenal job this year and we’ll have another strong season next year. We just have to keep pressing. I know it’s easier said than done, but we have nothing to lose.”

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

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