You’ll be representing American Rebel safes on your Funny Car at Topeka. How special is it welcoming American Rebel as a new sponsor this season in the NHRA?
“Getting to welcome another sponsor just shows the organization TSR has put together with the new sponsorship they’re bringing in. There are a lot of folks working hard internally to make these deals come together. American Rebel is a great company. I hunt and fish and spend a lot of time outdoors. There’s nothing better than a great safe to protect all of the equipment involved in those activities. It’s also great for fire protection. Should your house burn down, your valuables will be kept safe. I think it’s a great investment and I’m proud to represent a company I can relate to and stand behind. I’m hoping we can turn some win lights on and get a lot of exposure for them.”
With 2023 marking the final event at Heartland Motorsports Park, how significant would a win be in the final Menards NHRA Nationals presented by PetArmor?
“We always seem to do pretty well at Topeka and it’s special getting to hold national records there. When the weather moves in and cools down, you can really run well and the facility is nice. You always want to win the last one. It’s no different than Denver. Being able to win the last race there was super special. It would be the same way with Topeka because I have a lot of memories there. I can’t wait to get out there and do what we do. We need to keep the points lead alive these next three races before the Countdown starts, then have to win a few more races in the Countdown. You have to go up there with everything you’ve got and then bring a little more. It’s a tough field in Funny Car. Everyone is pushing hard and pressing the limit. We’re going to be aggressive and see what we can do. There’s nothing but confidence in Dickie Venables (crew chief), Mike Knudsen (co-crew chief), Alex Conaway (car chief) and all of my guys putting the car together. I’m looking forward to seeing Josh (Munoz) soon. He was hurt in a car accident a few races back and I’m looking forward to having him back.”
- The Menards NHRA Nationals presented by PetArmor at Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka, Kansas, marks the 13th event on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series’ 21-race calendar. Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) brings its two fulltime entries – one in Top Fuel for 11-time event winner Leah Pruett and one in Funny Car for 47-time Funny Car winner and three-time champion Matt Hagan – to the third-to-last race of the regular season before the Countdown to the Championship begins Sept. 14-17 with the Pep Boys NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Mohnton, Pennsylvania.
- After the 15th and final regular-season event on Sept. 4 with the Dodge Power Brokers U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park, the top-10 drivers in the standings of each of the four professional categories of the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – qualify for the Countdown to the Championship. The top-10 drivers in each class then compete in the final, six-race playoffs to vie for the title. Coming into Topeka, Pruett is fifth in the Top Fuel championship standings, 217 points behind leader Justin Ashley. Hagan, meanwhile, is leading the Funny Car championship standings, 19 points ahead of Ron Capps.
- Pruett and Hagan enter Topeka representing Rayce Rudeen Foundation and American Rebel, respectively.
- Hagan won the Menards NHRA Nationals in 2016. His 5.724 ET at 179.04 mph run defeated Jack Beckman (6.560 ET at 146.75 mph). Hagan also has two No. 1 qualifiers at the event, which came in 2016 (3.862 ET at 335.57 mph) and 2017 (3.802 ET at 338.85 mph).
- Hagan is the track record holder at Topeka for both time (3.802 seconds) and speed (338.85 mph), each of which were set on May 20, 2017. It is Hagan’s fastest recorded speed and the fourth-fastest in Funny Car history. The 3.802 time is the third-quickest in Funny Car history behind only Robert Hight’s national record (3.793 seconds) at Brainerd, Minnesota and Hagan’s own 3.799-seconds at Indianapolis, Indiana.
- Hagan will participate in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty autograph session on Saturday at 12 p.m. CDT. The session will take place at the Mission Foods Display.
- Hagan will be making a Menards store appearance on Thursday, August 10 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. CDT in Topeka, Kansas (6401 SW 17th St.) to promote the new partnership between American Rebel, Tony Stewart Racing and Menards.
- DYK? The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series heads to Heartland Motorsports Park for the final time. When Heartland Motorsports Park opened in 1989, it was the first new auto racing facility to be built in the United States in 20 years. Located on the south side of Topeka, the facility covers approximately 650 acres and includes an NHRA-sanctioned quarter-mile drag strip, a 2.5-mile road course with four different configurations, a 22-acre asphalt pad for autocross and drift events, and a motocross track. Though this August will mark the final NHRA national event, the venue will continue to host racing and other events during the rest of 2023.