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  • Writer's pictureNick Cavanaugh @Car_Sick_Nick

Stewart Top Fuel Debut at 55th Annual NHRA Gatornationals, Hagan Starts Funny Car Title Defense

Tony Stewart makes his much-awaited debut in Top Fuel racing while NHRA World Funny Car champion Matt Hagan returns to the NHRA Gatornationals

Get ready to witness history in the making as Tony Stewart, the legendary NASCAR Hall of Famer, steps into the Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) Dodge//SRT Direct Connection dragster at the NHRA Amalie Gatornationals.

Considered by many to be the most anticipated NHRA debut in over a decade, Stewart, the ultimate motorsports maverick, has conquered NASCAR, IndyCar, and USAC and is now, he's ready to dominate the Top Fuel division with his 11,000-horsepower #Dodge dragster.

"I'm currently navigating the learning curve with the Top Fuel dragster," shared Stewart. His wife Leah Pruett decided to sit out the 2024 campaign so they could focus more on starting a family, Stewart will pilot the TSR Dodge//SRT Direct Connection dragster, while Pruett, on the other hand, will play a crucial role as the strategist and driving coach for the TSR team. "This is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges I've faced in my racing career. I've had to learn and adapt to various divisions and racecars throughout my career, but this might just be the toughest one yet. However, the thrill of figuring out these cars is what excites me the most."

"In my situation, being a rookie, I believe it's a massive advantage. I have complete confidence in my team, and I know they are far stronger at this point in the season than I am. It gives me a tremendous confidence boost. It allows me to solely focus on mastering the intricacies of driving a new car. This experience is unlike anything I've ever encountered in motorsports. It's not like a NASCAR or IndyCar track where I can easily complete 100 laps in a day. Here, on a great day, we'll only have the opportunity for four or maybe five runs during testing. So, every lap we get is incredibly valuable right now."

As Stewart gears up for his debut in Top Fuel, his teammate, the seasoned Matt Hagan, is on a mission to secure his third consecutive victory at the Gatornationals in the blazing fast TSR Direct Connection Dodge//SRT #Hellcat. Qualifying kicks off on Friday, March 8. It's going to be a thrilling weekend of nitro-burning power!

In a remarkable feat, Hagan joined the ranks of racing legends Don "Snake" Prudhomme and Kenny

Bernstein last year, clinching his fourth NHRA World Funny Car Championship. He also secured the first-ever world title for Tony Stewart Racing. Hagan's dominated with an impressive six NHRA national events in 2023. Now, on the cusp of the 2024 NHRA Mission Drag Racing Series, he stands one win away from reaching the coveted milestone of 50 career victories.

It would be really unbelievable to win Gainesville a third time,” said Hagan. “It’s so hard to win any of these races and anything can happen. We’re going to work really hard to kick the season off well again. Gainesville has been a better track to me the last few years. We have a lot of data to work with from the last two years."

“We have a group that is well-oiled with a lot of chemistry, synergy and energy as we have proven with last year’s championship. I'm super confident in everything that my guys do. Tony is going to be learning to drive the dragster this season, so it'll give us an opportunity to help those guys also if they need it. I have confidence in Tony and his TSR dragster team just like my Funny Car squad. I’d love to win Gainesville for a third time.”

Hagan and Stewart have been putting their new TSR Direct Connection Dodge//SRT racecars through their paces in the past few weeks, getting ready for the NHRA Amalie Gatornationals. And when they take to the track at Gainesville, be ready for an exciting display of speed and style as they'll be unveiling stunning new liveries for their 2024 TSR Dodge//SRT Direct Connection red-and-black race cars.

Nitro qualifying sessions begin Friday, March 8, at 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. EST. Saturday's qualifying rounds are at 1:20 p.m. and 4 p.m. EST, while the final eliminations will be on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. EDT.

Nick Cavanaugh | @Car_Sick_Nick | All Roads Lead to The Motor City


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