Pre-Race DENSO NHRA Sonoma Nationals

Sonoma Race Matt Hagan

You’ve maintained the points lead heading into Sonoma with four races remaining in the regular season prior to the Countdown to the Championship. What fuel does that give you in your quest for your first Wally from wine country?

“The quest to win at wine country has always been there, since I’ve never won there before. It’s always challenging and keeping the points lead is challenging. (Ron) Capps’ team is great. They’ve won back-to-back championships and he’s fighting hard to take over the lead, but we’re fighting hard to stay on top. This Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car is running good. We had a tough weekend in Seattle, but that’s drag racing and you’re going to have that. As much as you want to be on top all the time, it makes you appreciate the weekends when things do go well. Coming into Sonoma, we found some things we need to fix and the guys are working hard at it. Capps seems to always pull out a win in wine country, so now it’s his turn to watch us in the winner’s circle.”

Your Funny Car will feature Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage for their first primary race with Tony Stewart Racing. How special is it to welcome them onboard on the nitro side given their involvement in Pro Stock?

“It’s super special to be able to debut the Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage scheme in Sonoma. Jason (Johnson) is a great guy and his group is incredible. They bring a great atmosphere to the track when they’re around and I love racing with them. His garage is unbelievable. They’re big Dodge enthusiasts and they have so many incredible cars that blow you away. They’ve been big supporters of drag racing for a long time. His dad sponsored both Kenny and Brandon Bernstein back in the day. They have nothing but love for drag racing and they’re huge supporters in the Pro Stock ranks with Elite Motorsports. To have them on the nitro side is awesome. We appreciate their support for the sport. When I won in Denver, it was a special race to me. Trophies are obviously always special. It was Jason’s birthday and I was able to give him my trophy for being a part of our program. What a great weekend to honor him with that and show him love. I know this Tony Stewart Racing group is going to win a lot of races, so I can’t wait to get JHG in the winner’s circle.”

  • The DENSO NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway marks the culmination of the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series’ three-week long Western Swing. The two previous events of the Western Swing were the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals July 14-16 at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colorado, and the Flav-R-Pac NHRA Northwest Nationals July 21-23 at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Washington. The DENSO NHRA Sonoma Nationals is the 12th event on the NHRA’s 21-race calendar.
  • Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) will be represented in Top Fuel by 11-time event winner Leah Pruett and in Funny Car by 47-time Funny Car winner and three-time champion Matt Hagan. Pruett and Hagan enter Sonoma representing Rayce Rudeen Foundation and Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage, respectively.
  • The Rayce Rudeen Foundation is a non-profit organization that works with organizations and programs to encourage a healthy and productive life that is free of addiction. The designated 501(c)(3) is named in honor of Rayce Rudeen, who at age 26 passed away from an accidental Fentanyl overdose. Since its inception, the Rayce Rudeen Foundation has advocated for creating a supportive community in which everyone can access prevention, treatment, recovery and family-support services, all free from stigma. By collaborating with local universities, researchers, organizations, businesses and community coalitions, the Rayce Rudeen Foundation is leading communities toward a united and compassionate response to addiction by identifying gaps in care and building educational tools.
  • Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage (JHG) was formed in 2021 and brings a passion and flare to the automotive world. They aim to inspire, drive and celebrate progress. JHG spans across Jason Johnson’s car collection featuring more than 200 sought after vehicles from classics, to hot rods and supercars. Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage’s mission is to preserve and showcase the automotive industry. The vehicles are driven to and displayed at events by Johnson and his team with the goal of growing interest and keeping car culture thriving. Johnson’s history in the industry began with Mather Auto Dismantler, Mather Mini Trucks and U-Pull It in Northern California. He later held an instrumental role in the growth and success of Copart, Inc., a global provider of online vehicle auction and remarketing services. JHG also serves as a primary sponsor of Elite Motorsports in the NHRA Pro Stock series.
  • Hagan is also seeking his first victory in the DENSO NHRA Sonoma Nationals. He has advanced to the finals three times – 2012 (5.462 ET at 146.67 mph, lost to Johnny Gray: 4.142 ET at 305.15 mph), 2019 (4.030 ET at 316.60 mph, lost to Robert Hight: 3.973 ET at 325.45 mph) and 2021 (3.991 ET at 324.44 mph, lost to Hight: 3.871 ET at 322.50 mph). Hagan has two No. 1 qualifiers at the event, which came in 2009 (4.068 ET at 307.51 mph) and 2013 (3.986 ET at 320.51 mph).
  • Stewart, Pruett and Hagan will participate in a Heat Wave Visual autograph session on Saturday at 3:45 p.m. PDT. The session will take place at the Heat Wave Visual Display.
  • DYK? The dragstrip at Sonoma is located inside the track’s road course, which annually hosts the NASCAR Cup Series. While Tony Stewart Racing is looking for its first NHRA win at Sonoma, Tony Stewart the owner is already a three-time winner at the track. The NASCAR Hall of Famer won three NASCAR Cup Series races on the 1.99-mile, 10-turn road course – 2001, 2005 and 2016. His victory in 2016 was his 49th and final NASCAR Cup Series victory as Stewart retired from NASCAR racing at the conclusion of the season.