October 30, 2022, Las Vegas, Nevada – From the No. 2 position on the eliminations ladder at the Nevada Nationals, Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) driver Matt Hagan muscled his Dodge Power Brokers Funny Car to the winner’s circle at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to earn a fourth win this season and his first of the playoffs to keep his first-year team in the hunt for the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) World Championship.
Hagan started his race day from second place spot on the eliminations ladder and with a little Vegas luck on his side against No. 15 seed Steven Densham. After his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat had the advantage on the start, it dropped some cylinders early but Hagan kept on the throttle until he lost power and coasted across the finish line with a slim 0.0032-second margin of victory to move on to the quarterfinals.
He then took advantage of the opportunity to advance with a good side-by-side drag race against No. 10 seed Chad Green and drove the Dodge Power Brokers machine to a strong 3.909-second lap at 331.77 mph for the round win ahead of his competitor’s 3.940 sec./ 320.20 mph effort.
That set up a semifinal matchup against No. 3 seed Bob Tasca III that provided an exciting battle that began with the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat launching first with a 0.040-sec. reaction time (RT) and running a 3.924 sec/330.07 mph to beat a 0.063-sec RT and 3.904 sec./328.86 mph lap.
Hagan’s two holeshot wins were key in sending him to an important final elimination round with important championship implications against the Funny Car championship points leader and No. 1 qualifier Robert Hight. The Dodge Power Brokers Funny Car launched first and its driver never looked back on the way to turning on the win light with a 3.896 sec./330.23 mph to earn his 43rd career victory and take home a fourth Wally trophy from the Nevada Nationals in six years.
"My guys are making some real power with this Dodge Power Brokers car, and, you know, it's running strong, man," Hagan said. "They put a great hot rod underneath me, and to come out here on Sunday, and win on two holeshots and get my team that little extra bump of what we needed to keep going, It's hard to get those holeshots and sometimes you gotta be lucky, and sometimes you gotta be a little good.
"I don't know what it is about these later races, we just always do well here and in Pomona as well. These are Dickie Venables type of conditions,m where we get the cooler weather, the tighter tracks where you make big power and lay it out. I feel the momentum building back. I feel like these are our type of races, our type of conditions, and Pomona, I have done really, really well. It's such a historical place to be, they crowned champions there, and when you roll into Pomona, you know, history is going to be made."
Hagan’s win comes on the heels of a playoff performance through five of the Countdown’s six events that includes three semifinal performances and two back-to-back final rounds appearances to keep his championship hopes alive.
While the three-time Funny Car world champion remains third in the playoff standings, the win over Hight cuts his deficit to 63 points from the leader heading into the points-and-a-half NHRA Finals at Pomona and two markers from fellow contender Ron Capps in second place.
The conclusion of the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season take place Nov. 11-13 with the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Pomona, California.
Funny Car Point Standings (season wins in parentheses)
1. Robert Hight 2592 (8)
2. Ron Capps: 2531 (5)
3. Matt Hagan: 2529 (4)
4. John Force: 2406 (1)
5. Bob Tasca III: 2391(3)
6. J.R. Todd: 2295
7. Tim Wilkerson: 2261
8. Alexis DeJoria: 2259 (1)
9. Cruz Pedregon: 2222
10. Blake Alexander: 2150
11. Jim Campbell: 2149
See the recap by NHRA National Dragster staff:
See Sundays photo gallery from NHRA National Dragster staff:
Check out the points after Las Vegas:
Content: Tony Stewart Racing PR / Mopar Dodge//SRT Motorsports PR / RPM
Photo: NHRA / RPM