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Back to Back Weekends bring Opportunity for Consistency at Tony Stewart Racing

Norwalk, OH – The Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio, marks the 10th event on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series’ 22-race calendar. Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) brings its two fulltime entries – one in Top Fuel for nine-time event winner Leah Pruett and one in Funny Car for three-time Funny Car champion Matt Hagan.

– Dodge Power Brokers and Direct Connection return to Pruett’s Top Fuel dragster and Hagan’s Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car this weekend in Norwalk. The Dodge Power Brokers program serves as the exclusive source for Direct Connection, Dodge’s factory-backed performance parts program, which is equipped with staff trained to deliver a performance-focused customer service experience.

– Pruett and Hagan will participate in a Dodge autograph session on Friday from 3:45-4:15 p.m. EDT and again on Saturday from 11:45-12:15 p.m. EDT. Both sessions will take place in the pits at the Dodge display.

– The Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals will serve as Pruett’s 181st career Top Fuel start and her seventh at Norwalk. For Hagan, this will be his 303rd career Funny Car start and his 13th at Norwalk.

– Pruett is eyeing her first victory in the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals. She is also seeking her first No. 1 qualifier at Norwalk.

– Hagan has one career win at Norwalk in 2018 (4.094 ET at 288.21 mph) when he defeated Courtney Force (4.220 ET at 227.54 mph). Hagan has two No. 1 qualifiers at the event, which came in 2015 (3.973 ET at 321.96 mph) and 2017 (3.865 ET at 333.33 mph).

– Hagan enters Norwalk with a 42-point lead in the Funny Car championship standings over his nearest pursuer, Robert Hight.

– Hagan has reached the final round in 13 of the last 35 NHRA events, including six of nine this year.

Leah Pruett, Driver of the Dodge Power Brokers Top Fuel Dragster

Having raced last weekend at Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway, what advantage do you and the Dodge Power Brokers team get with back-to-back race weekends?

“Although our altitude and weather conditions will change at Norwalk, we are in what I would call our second phase of the season weather-wise. Back-to-back between here and Norwalk, it is hot. What we learned in Bristol, we will be able to utilize in Norwalk. From a mental standpoint, everything is fresh in your brain. The guys service the car on Monday on the road and we get to continue our momentum. We have high attitudes and we are ready to get to Ohio.”

You have four rounds of qualifying at Norwalk. What advantage does four rounds of qualifying have versus three rounds, which is what you have at the majority of NHRA events?

“I’ve been dreaming of these Fridays to come of having two rounds on Friday. It is so advantageous as a driver because you want to see that Christmas tree in your car and get acclimated as many times as possible. It’s also our happy place. The first run sets the standard for the entire weekend – a zero below or above. Once you get that first run, you see where you’re at and you’re hopeful to be able to improve upon that for your Friday night session, which is most likely going to be the quickest of the entire event. It’s almost a pre-qualifier for your qualifier. When we only have three sessions, it’s very easy to get behind the eight ball, and that’s not a place we like to be. We cherish the number of runs we get to have, especially as we’re starting to go rounds and gather data. It’s my favorite thing, and I also really enjoy it for the fans that they get to see a lot of action on Friday if they can’t make it to the track the whole weekend.”

Norwalk is known for its $1 per pound ice cream, which has inspired the tradition of winners receiving a special ice-cream-scoop trophy along with the Wally. What would it mean to bring home both trophies this weekend?

“I really do stay away from sweets as much as possible. I’m more of a spicy foods girl, but I will take any type of winner’s circle trophy. With the round wins that we’ve had, each one feels different. We don’t break our cycle and we don’t break our momentum, so to think about being in the winner’s circle with both of those trophies would be very deserving for everyone. It’d be like getting your cake and eating it too and having your ice cream. I guarantee it’ll be a lot of work to get there, but I believe we’re due for it. A win will be memorable no matter what, but it’d be even sweeter if we’re able to take home both trophies.”

Dodge’s headquarters is located 150 miles north of Norwalk in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Talk about the significance of competing in a quasi home race for Dodge.

“Norwalk is technically a homecoming for us. Not just as our largest partner, but power plant and supporter in helping us gain advantages. On both the Funny Car and Top Fuel side, we work remotely with the Detroit headquarters on a number of projects and this is our opportunity to have our face-to-face meetings with them and go over more details about our projects. That is something I look forward to. For those individuals to be out at the track with us, that might spur conversations that we haven’t been able to have via email and Zoom. Winning with the Dodge Power Brokers car always has an extra push of horsepower behind it because it’s so endemic and this team would not exist without Dodge and the people who are coming to Norwalk. It’s not added pressure, by any means, but rather a welcome backing. We can’t wait to unleash our HEMI horsepower for them to see and continue the programs that we have.”

Matt Hagan, Driver of the Dodge Power Brokers Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car

Having raced last weekend at Bristol, what advantage do you and the Dodge Power Brokers team get with back-to-back race weekends?

“Back-to-back race weekends are always good because we’re always learning something and can carry that into the next week with only a few days in between. It’s just like anything, when you stretch it out, the more time you have to think about things and even as a driver, you can sometimes overthink things. I have nothing but confidence in this group and what Dickie (Venables, crew chief), Mike (Knudson, co-crew chief), Alex (Conaway, car chief) and all the guys are doing out here making the calls. We just have to get ready to roll into these tracks with hot weather.”

What advantage does four rounds of qualifying have versus three rounds?

“Four rounds are always great, since it’s more data we get to collect. It’s more opportunity to record a low ET and collect more points. Dickie has been reviewing data from all the way back to 2014. Four rounds feels like old-school racing, but I understand why we generally now only have three rounds. On Friday night, we get to kind of let it all hang out and then on Saturday, we have to pull it back in to get a good pace for raceday.”

Norwalk is known for its $1 per pound ice cream, which has inspired the tradition of winners receiving a special ice-cream-scoop trophy along with the Wally. What would it mean to bring home both trophies this weekend?

“I have an ice-cream scoop trophy at the house from my win in 2018. It’s one of those trophies that stands out on the wall of Wallys, and it would sure be nice to add another one to it. I have four kids, so I guess I need to win three more ice-cream scoops.”

Dodge’s headquarters is located 150 miles north of Norwalk in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Talk about the significance of competing in a quasi home race for Dodge.  

“We love to see Dodge folks out at the racetrack, so hopefully even more of them will make the drive to come see us at Norwalk. We love putting on a show for them. They do an amazing job keeping us surrounded by great people and parts. It’s amazing all the work they’ve done with the new car bodies as far as the wind tunnel goes and R&D. We’ve gone to their headquarters in the past, so it’s always nice to visit with more of their employees. Any time we can all rally around that and have support, we love it.”

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