MARCH 11, 2023, GAINESVILLE, Fla.– The season opening NHRA Amalie Motor Gatornationals proved to be an exciting qualifying rounds Saturday before a sellout crowd. Leah Pruett and Matt Hagan of Tony Stewart Racing led the Dodge//SRT and Mopar competitors in the nitro-burning divisions with their respective Top Fuel and Funny Car machines.
Pruett, the 10-time NHRA national event winner, drove her all-new sublime green TSR Direct Connection Top Fuel dragster to fourth in the 16-car starting field Saturday with a 3.725 at 331.94 miles per hour. Pruett and her Neal Strausbaugh-led crew showed consistency in the three qualifying runs with two 3.72-second passes. The Arizona driver will compete against the No. 13 qualifier, Doug Foley, in Sunday’s first round of eliminations.
Hagan, the defending NHRA Gatornationals Funny Car champion, also showed consistency Saturday with a 3.900-second qualifying run as and a top speed of 333.08 m.p.h. with his TSR Direct Connection Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car to record the fifth spot in the 16-car field. Rain in Friday’s qualifying cost the nitro cars a fourth qualifying hit, but the Virginia driver is confident in his Dickie Venables-led crew to handle the ever-changing conditions of the Gainesville Raceway track surface.
“The weekend runs with the TSR Direct Connection Top Fuel dragster have been a culmination of our testing efforts,” said Pruett. “The weather today was much different, and we are making so much power that we needed to adjust the car’s setup. But I’m very pleased with our team’s solid two 3.72 (second) runs. We are watching the starting line surface closely with rubber changing the track. We have a good race-ready setup for eliminations on Sunday. I’m looking forward to race day.”
Like Pruett, Hagan mentioned the tricky track conditions could pose a problem for the nitro cars, but Matt is confident that his TSR Direct Connection team has the adjustments for Sunday’s eliminations. Hagan will take on veteran Tim Wilkerson in the first round of Funny Car eliminations on Sunday at 10 a.m. EDT.
“Coming into Gainesville after winning last year is a huge confidence builder for myself and our TSR Direct Connection team,” said Hagan. “We would love to go back-to-back here on Sunday, but it won’t be easy with this Funny Car field. The team has made good changes with the track conditions, and the crew has given me a strong car for eliminations. We will need to take it round-by-round as the conditions can get tricky out there. But I feel confident that we can navigate the changing track surface to put the Direct Connection Dodge/SRT Hellcat in victory lane again.”
Joining Hagan in the Dodge/SRT and Mopar Funny Car category Sunday will be NHRA World Finals winner Cruz Pedregon in his Snap-On Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car with a 3.933-second and will start in the eighth position, while rookie Funny Car driver Alex Laughlin qualified his Jim Dunn-tuned Havoline Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car in 13th at 4.012 seconds.
In addition, the popular wheel-standing Factory Stock Showdown will feature several Dodge//SRT and Mopar racers in their Dodge Challenger Drag Pack cars gunning for the coveted NHRA Gatornationals event title Sunday at Gainesville Raceway.
@DodgeMoparMotorsports on Instagram
The @DodgeMoparMotorsports Instagram channel continues to share content capturing Dodge//SRT Mopar drivers on the track. Fans can see action from the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series and NHRA Sportsman grassroots racers, competing in classes such as Factory Stock Showdown, Stock and Super Stock, as well as additional motorsports series.
DodgeGarage: Digital Hub for Drag Racing News
Fans can follow all the NHRA action this season at DodgeGarage, the one-stop portal for Dodge//SRT and Mopar drag-racing news. The site includes daily updates and access to an online racing HQ, news, events, galleries, available downloads and merchandise. For more information, visit www.dodgegarage.com.
Dodge//SRT and Mopar Manufacturers Midway Exhibit
Fans in attendance at NHRA Camping World national events in 2023 are invited to visit Dodge//SRT and Mopar’s massive 4,800-square-foot display, one of the largest exhibits in the NHRA’s Manufacturers Midway. At the Dodge//SRT and Mopar display, they can meet their favorite Dodge//SRT drivers for autographs and check out a selection of Direct Connection performance parts and vehicles. In addition, drag-racing fans can test their virtual skills and experience a nitro pass from the driver’s seat of the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car simulator. The interactive exhibit also features a pair of Dodge Challenger SRT Demon simulators.
For more than 100 years, the Dodge brand has carried on the spirit of brothers John and Horace Dodge. Their influence continues today as Dodge shifts into high gear with a lineup that delivers unrivaled performance in each of the segments where they compete.
Dodge drives forward as a pure performance brand, offering SRT Hellcat versions of the Dodge Challenger, Dodge Charger and Dodge Durango, as well as an R/T performance hybrid version of the all-new Dodge Hornet, representing the brand’s first-ever electrified performance vehicle. Dodge delivers the dragstrip dominating 807-horsepower Dodge Challenger SRT Super Stock; the 797-horsepower Dodge Charger SRT Redeye, the most powerful and fastest mass-produced sedan in the world; and the 710-horsepower Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat, the most powerful SUV ever; and best-in-class standard performance in the compact utility vehicle segment with the Dodge Hornet. Combined, these four muscle vehicles make Dodge the industry’s most powerful brand, offering more horsepower than any other American brand across its entire lineup.
In 2022, the Dodge brand ranked No. 1 in the J.D. Power APEAL Study (mass market), making it the only domestic brand ever to do so three years in a row. In 2020, Dodge was named the “#1 Brand in Initial Quality,” making it the first domestic brand ever to rank No. 1 in the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study (IQS).
Dodge is part of the portfolio of brands offered by leading global automaker and mobility provider Stellantis. For more information regarding Stellantis (NYSE: STLA), visit www.stellantis.com.
Mopar is the the global name for Stellantis genuine parts and authentic accessories.
A simple combination of the words MOtor and PARts, Mopar offers exceptional service, parts and customer-care. Born in 1937 as the name of a line of antifreeze products, Mopar has evolved over 85 years to represent both complete vehicle care and authentic performance for owners and enthusiasts worldwide.
Mopar made its mark in the 1960s during the muscle-car era with performance parts to enhance speed and handling for both on-road and racing use. Later, Mopar expanded to include technical service and customer support, and today integrates service, parts and customer-care operations in order to enhance customer and dealer support worldwide.
Complete information on Mopar is available at www.mopar.com and the newly redesigned Mopar blog at blog.mopar.com. For more information regarding Stellantis (NYSE: STLA), please visit www.stellantis.com.
Follow Dodge, Mopar and Stellantis news and video on:
Company blog: blog.stellantisnorthamerica.com
Media website: media.stellantisnorthamerica.com
Dodge brand: www.dodge.com
Mopar brand: www.mopar.com
Mopar blog: blog.mopar.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/dodge and www.facebook.com/mopar
Instagram: @DodgeMoparMotorsports, @DodgeOfficial and @OfficialMopar
Twitter: @Dodge, @OfficialMopar and @StellantisNA
YouTube: www.youtube.com/dodge, https://www.youtube.com/c/mopar and www.youtube.com/StellantisNA
- Darren Jacobs
- Dodge//SRT Communcations
- Mopar Communications