Pre-Race In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals

Matt Hagan 3 time FC Champion

Looking back on the season, what was the most memorable moment for you in TSR’s second season as a team in the NHRA?

“My most memorable moment from the season would be getting the first win of the year. There have only been seven different winners this year and there were only six different winners last year. That means there are a lot of competitors that go home without a trophy throughout the year. Getting that first win of the season is always huge. It’s always special to have the opportunity to be in the finals and make something happen for yourself and your team. You have to have one win before you can have six.”

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

“I don’t think we will approach it any differently. We always want to win and do well for our sponsors. You always have to treat it like ‘What have you done that got you there?’ I think if you change that or deviate from that, you have an opportunity to do what you’re not supposed to. What we’ve been doing is what we are supposed to do. We have been racing smart on Sunday. We haven’t always been the fastest car out there, but we’ve been a very consistent race car. I think that’s paid off in the long run. Number one qualifiers are great, but at the end of the day, we want to turn four win lights on. I think the biggest thing we have to do is to figure out how to really race the race track. The lanes can be challenging. We have to run as hard as we can possibly run with the conditions in front of us. We have to understand the task at hand and not let the pressure get to us. We just have to race our race car the way we’ve been racing it.”

How special will it be getting to race on Veteran’s Day weekend, with TSR having four employees that are veterans?

“Racing on Veteran’s Day is huge. TSR has four employees that are veterans. My dad is a veteran, and my grandpa was in the Korean War. They all sacrifice so much, so that we are able to enjoy our freedoms. You can’t say thank you enough. I have so much gratitude for people that want to fight for our country and lay down their lives for us. I am proud to say I have a lot of friends that are veterans and I think it’s extremely important to take care of them. Because of their sacrifice and willingness to fight for our freedoms, we are able to go out there and do what we love.”

  • This weekend’s In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip is the 21st and final race on the 2023 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 2023, with Pruett securing her seventh Countdown appearance while Hagan earned his spot in the NHRA postseason for the 12th time.
  • Pruett enters Pomona third in the Top Fuel standings, 34 points behind championship leader Steve Torrence. Hagan is leading in the Funny Car standings, 15 points ahead of Bob Tasca III.
  • Pruett and Hagan kept their title hopes alive with TSR’s first double-up victory at the series’ Texas NHRA FallNationals October 13-15 near Dallas, Texas. The wins moved Pruett and Hagan into the points lead in their respective categories entering the previous event, the NHRA Nevada Nationals in Las Vegas.
  • Torrence, Kalitta, Pruett, Salinas, Ashley and Brown are the Top Fuel competitors still in championship contention. Torrence leads, with Kalitta 15 points back, Pruett 34 points behind, Salinas 76 points back, Ashley 82 points behind and Brown 146 points behind Torrence. Torrence is a four-time champion (2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021). Kalitta, Pruett, Salinas and Ashley are all seeking their first title. Brown is a three-time champion (2012, 2015 and 2016).
  • Hagan, Tasca III, Hight and Capps are the Funny Car ensemble still in championship contention. Hagan leads, with Tasca III 15 points arrears, Hight 17 points back and Capps 139 points behind Hagan. These four drivers have combined for seven of the last nine Funny Car titles. Tasca III is seeking his first title. Hight is a three-time champion (2009, 2017 and 2019). Capps is the three-time and reigning Funny Car champion (2016, 2021 and 2022). 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.
  • Hagan has won two of the five races in the current Countdown and has 15 overall Countdown wins, tying him for fifth most in Countdown history (behind Eddie Krawiec (18), Greg Anderson (17), Erica Enders (16), Robert Hight (16) and tied with Andrew Hines and Antron Brown).
  • Every single Top Fuel and Funny Car pass the championship contenders make this weekend in Pomona matters. The finale delivers points-and-a-half.
  • The In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals will be Hagan’s 332nd career Funny Car start. It’ll be his 29th overall start at Pomona and his 14th in the NHRA Finals.
  • Earlier this year when the NHRA visited Pomona March 31-April 2, Hagan secured the No. 10 qualifying position and advanced to the finals on Sunday, where his run of 3.967 ET at 328.06 mph defeated Ron Capps’ 4.303 ET, 211.13 mph run.
  • Hagan has three career wins at the NHRA Finals (2011, 2013 and 2014). In his first victory in 2011, Hagan ran a 4.009 ET at 317.79 mph to defeat Robert Hight (4.031 ET at 318.92 mph). In 2013, Hagan ran a 4.018 ET at 320.66 mph to defeat John Force (4.057 ET at 317.94 mph). And in 2014, Hagan clocked a 4.076 ET at 310.77 mph to defeat John Force (4.086 ET at 276.58 mph).
  • Hagan has two No. 1 qualifiers at the NHRA Finals, which came in 2011 (4.033 ET at 316.27 mph) and 2019 (3.872 ET at 333.58 mph).
  • Direct Connection is the primary partner of Pruett and Hagan this weekend in Pomona. With muscle car enthusiasts looking for “ready to run” parts, Direct Connection serves as the source for high-performance parts and technical expertise straight from the factory. The Top Fuel Dragster and Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car are featured in Sublime green. Sublime was first introduced during the 1970 model year. The Dodge Charger and Challenger, in current form, are coming to an end after this year. Dodge is bringing back the iconic color for consumers to bring nostalgia to the highways and purchase their own commemorative last call vehicle.
  • As part of a weekend-long celebration of veterans, the NHRA will offer a number of special Veteran’s Day promotions that will take place during the In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals. While supplies last, fans will be given a special limited-edition NHRA Challenge Coin that salutes our veterans. A one-off Veteran’s Day event T-shirt will also be available for purchase at the NHRA NitroMall, with proceeds going to Veterans Ticket Foundation, a veterans support organization that purchases tickets for active military, veterans, and their families.
  • Pruett and Hagan will run special decals at Pomona in support of Veteran’s Day. TSR honors all the men and women that serve and have served our country and communities. Four of TSR’s crew members are veterans – Thomas Brown, Kurt Johnson, Allen Oberbroeckling and Chris Shuron. Brown, who oversees body and tire preparation on Hagan’s Funny Car, was a sergeant and squad leader in the Army. Johnson, TSR’s track specialist, spent six years as a United States Marine Aircraft Fire Fighter during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Oberbroeckling, a member of TSR’s hospitality team, was an 88M Motor Transport Operator in the Army. Shuron, a clutch assistant who handles tire preparation on Pruett’s Top Fuel dragster, served in the Marines where he was a lance corporal.