Hagan Enjoys 'Magical Weekend,' Takes Victory in Final at Bandimere Speedway
Scores his fourth win of 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series and 47th career NHRA national event victory
Matt Hagan drove his Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) Dodge//SRT Direct Connection Hellcat Funny Car to the final win light in the 43-year history of the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals at famed Bandimere Speedway on Sunday.
Hagan, the No. 1 qualifier in the Dodge Power Brokers Mile-High Nationals for the third consecutive year at “Thunder Mountain,” defeated Alexis DeJoria in the final round with a 4.135-second run at 304.25 miles per hour, to DeJoria’s 4.217 effort. The victory was Hagan’s fourth in the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series and his 47th career NHRA national event win.
Earlier in the event the Virginia racer defeated Chris King, and after a bye run took down reigning NHRA Funny Car World Champion Ron Capps to advance to the final race against DeJoria.
Hagan completed a weekend “Grand Slam” by also taking the Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty Challenge for the Funny Car Class on Saturday with a win over Bob Tasca.
On Sunday, Hagan recorded a 4.041 against King, 4.280 in a second-round bye run and a 4.107 against Capps paired with a remarkable starting line reaction time of 0.008 seconds to take out his closest rival in the point standingsr. The Mile-High Nationals win extended Hagan’s point lead in the NHRA Funny Car standings to 45 over Capps heading to next weekend’s Northwest Nationals in Kent, Wash.
“This was a magical weekend for me and very emotional,” said Hagan. “It was my mom’s birthday and she passed away six months ago, so I was thinking about that throughout the weekend. But I also knew this is the last time I’d race at Bandimere Speedway and it was a Dodge-sponsored race. I’ve been on fire here before and we’ve blown up a lot of things on the ‘Mountain,’ so getting the quick qualifying time three years in a row and winning in 2021 and now today is very special. I don’t think it will sink in for a few months. Wow, I took the final win light at the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals. That’s something they can never take away from me.
“(Crew chief) Dickie Venables, Mike Knudsen, Alex Conaway and the rest of the crew were phenomenal this weekend. We were down one crew member (Josh Munoz) due to a car incident back in Indy, but everyone pitched in all weekend here. Heck, even the Bossman (Tony Stewart) was helping with fuel and preparing the equipment for the final round. It was a thrash getting everything ready. Leahs (Pruett, Hagan’s TSR teammate) crew helped us too. I still can’t believe this is the last one at Bandimere Speedway.”
Pruett, the defending Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals Top Fuel champion, suffered an extremely close loss in the first round of competition Sunday when she lost to Josh Hart although both posted identical 3.905-second passes.. Pruett recorded a sensational 0.036 second starting light in the TSR Dodge//SRT Direct Connection dragster but lost by inches at the finish line. Despite the loss, Pruett remains in the third position in the current NHRA Top Fuel point standings.
“The conclusion to our final Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway was less than ideal with the first-round exit, but there is still a lot of value in it for us for us as a unit,” said Pruett, who won her first NHRA “Wally” trophy at age eight at Bandimere Speedway in Junior Dragsters. “You can't curb the heartbreak. Unfortunately, our competitor, Josh Hart, had an insane .021 light to my .036, which were both low of the round. I knew when I hit the gas that I had a good reaction time and I thought I had him.
“We know that we have a good race car and a car that’s capable of winning races and preparing for championship contention. I would've loved more than anything to win again at Bandimere, with such an emotional connection. For us, the TSR team and Dodge, this is a chapter in our life that's just beginning, and I couldn't be more proud of the progress that we have made given our challenges this weekend.”
Team owner Tony Stewart was excited for Hagan's win, which marked the final NHRA race at Bandimere Speedway.
“The Dodge Power Brokers and Direct Connection Funny Car team won the race and had a great weekend,” said Stewart. “Leah cut a .036 light, which was awesome. Unfortunately, her opponent guessed and beat her off the line, so she went out the first round. For Matt to win the last race at Bandimere Speedway, it is so special. The Funny Cars were the last pair to go down the track. It’s an epic event. It’s the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals.
“To be able to finish it off for our partners is a great day. I appreciate everything they do for our Funny Car and Top Fuel teams. This is the first stop on the Western Swing with us going to Seattle and Sonoma after this. You can’t win them all if you don’t win the first one. Dickie and the whole team are very excited. Leah and her crew are excited also. They had some challenging moments, but we made big gains and learned from it. I feel like we’re in a good spot. I’m really proud of our team.”
The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series now moves to the Flav-R-Pac NHRA Northwest Nationals next weekend, July 21-23, at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Wash.