You surpassed 500 career round wins at the previous event, the Carolina Nationals. What does that mean when you look back on your career thus far?
“500 round wins is a huge milestone over your career. I can’t believe I’ve been able to be out here that long. I’ve been fortunate to surround myself with a good group of people the whole time and that’s why I’ve been so successful. I’m blessed to have the same group of guys now that’s been together for so long. I know what they’re capable of and I know what we can do out there on the racetrack. There’s a lot more round wins to come in the future.”
You’re running American Rebel on your Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car for the second time this season. What does it mean to run their colors?
“I’m really excited to run the American Rebel colors again in St. Louis. They’re a company that’s really growing right now at a fast pace. I’ll be making a Menards appearance this weekend, which I’m looking forward to. Everyone should go online and check out all of their safes because they’re a great product. Andy Ross (American Rebel CEO) is a patriotic guy that symbolizes the American way. He’s a good guy to be around and we share a lot of the same values. I hope we can go some rounds for them on Sunday. Andy is a musician, and he was working on a jingle for me last week, so I can’t wait to hear it.”
- The NHRA Midwest Nationals near St. Louis is the 18th race on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series’ 21-race schedule and it is the third round in the six-race Countdown to the Championship. Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) drivers Leah Pruett (Top Fuel) and Matt Hagan (Funny Car) are both in the Countdown, with 2023 marking Pruett’s seventh appearance in the NHRA postseason and Hagan’s 12th.
- Pruett is fourth in the Top Fuel standings heading into St. Louis, 76 points behind championship leader Doug Kalitta. Hagan is tied for third with Ron Capps in the Funny Car standings, 69 points behind leader Robert Hight. Pruett’s best career points finish is fourth, earned three times (2018, 2019 and 2020). Hagan is a three-time champion (2011, 2014 and 2020).
- Pruett is representing Code 3 Associates on her Top Fuel dragster at St. Louis. Hagan, meanwhile, has American Rebel on his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car.
- Code 3 Associates, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization specializing in animal rescue and recovery in disaster areas. Formed in 1985, Code 3 Associates has evolved from one unpaid volunteer to at least 75 professional responders around the country, which includes animal welfare, law enforcement, fire, EMS and veterinary specialists from the United States and Canada. While its focus is animals and their owners, Code 3 Associates trains its responders to the standards of human rescue, and Code 3 Associates also provides training to conduct thorough investigations into animal welfare, all of which is accredited by Colorado State University (CSU) and the CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
- American Rebel builds one of the most desirable residential safes on the market. Their Black Smoke safes come in six different sizes. They are specifically designed to meet the needs of homeowners and firearm aficionados. American Rebel positions itself as “America’s Patriotic Brand.” They recognize a growing need to protect yourself, your family, your neighbors or even a room full of strangers. That need is in the forethought of every product they design.
- The NHRA Midwest Nationals will be Pruett’s 204th career Top Fuel start and her eighth at St. Louis. For Hagan, the NHRA Midwest Nationals will be his 329th career Funny Car start and his 14th at the track.
- Pruett is seeking her first victory in the NHRA Midwest Nationals, as well as her first No. 1 qualifier at the event. Pruett has gone to the semifinals in three of her last five appearances (2018, 2019 and 2021). However, Pruett does own a win at the track – 2018 in Factory Stock Showdown. She has also competed in Pro Mod at St. Louis, advancing to the second round in 2012.
- Hagan enters the NHRA Midwest Nationals with one win in 2021, where his 3.933 ET, 333.49 mph run defeated Bob Tasca III (3.967 ET at 329.99 mph). Hagan has three No. 1 qualifiers at St. Louis, which came in 2013 (4.001 ET at 320.20 mph), 2015 (3.883 ET at 330.47 mph) and 2021 (3.875 ET at 327.03 mph). Hagan has gone to the finals five times at St. Louis, with runner-up finishes in 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2020.
- Hagan will be making a Menards store appearance on Friday, September 29 from 12:00-1:00 p.m. CDT in St. Louis, Missouri (1700 S. Hanley Road) to promote the partnership between American Rebel, Tony Stewart Racing and Menards.