Tony Stewart Racing Nitro: Phoenix Advance For The NHRA Arizona Nationals


Tony Stewart & Matt Hagan
Dodge Direct Connection Top Fuel & Funny Car Drivers
NHRA Arizona Nationals
April 5-7 | Chandler, Arizona


Event Overview

Friday, April 5 (Nitro Qualifying & Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge, streamed live on NHRA.TV)

Nitro qualifying session (Q1) / Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge – Round 1: 4:30 p.m. MST/7:30 p.m. EDT

Saturday, April 6 (Nitro Qualifying, Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge & NHRA Winternationals Finals, streamed live on NHRA.TV)

Nitro qualifying session (Q2) / Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge – Round 2: 12 p.m. MST/3 p.m. EDT
Nitro qualifying session (Q3) / NHRA Winternationals Finals: 2:30 p.m. MST/5:30 p.m. EDT

Sunday, April 7 (Nitro Eliminations, streamed live on NHRA.TV)

Round 1: 11 a.m. MST/2 p.m. EDT
Round 2: 1 p.m. MST/4 p.m. EDT
Semi-Finals: 2:35 p.m. MST/5:35 p.m. EDT
Finals: 4 p.m. MST/7 p.m. EDT


TV coverage on FS1

Friday, April 5: Qualifying show, recapping all of Friday’s action (6:30 p.m. MST/9:30 p.m. EDT)
Sunday, April 7: Qualifying show, recapping all of Saturday’s action (7:30 a.m. MST/10:30 a.m. EDT)
Sunday, April 7: Finals show (3:30 p.m. MST/6:30 p.m. EDT)


Notes of Interest

The NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird Motorsports Park is the third event on the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series’ 20-race calendar in 2024. Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) brings its two full-time entries – one in Top Fuel for Top Fuel rookie Tony Stewart and one in Funny Car for 49-time Funny Car winner and four-time champion Matt Hagan.

The NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series was unable to finish Sunday’s final-round of eliminations at the previous event, the NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California. Hagan advanced to the Final by defeating Buddy Hull in Round 1, Jeff Diehl in Round 2 and J.R. Todd in the Semi-Finals. He will face John Force in the Final.

Direct Connection is the primary partner of Stewart and Hagan this weekend in Phoenix. With muscle car enthusiasts looking for “ready to run” parts, Direct Connection serves as the source for high-performance parts and technical expertise straight from the factory.

The Arizona Nationals will mark Stewart’s third career Top Fuel start and his first at Phoenix. The Top Alcohol class, Stewart’s previous NHRA role, doesn’t run at Phoenix, which means Stewart will be making his first passes at Firebird Motorsports Park. The Top Fuel Dragster seat previously occupied by Leah Pruett qualified fourth and reached the Semifinals of last year’s Arizona Nationals, but Stewart is still looking for his first win light. He earned the second of his 49 NASCAR victories in the Checker Auto Parts 500 on Nov. 7, 1999 at Phoenix Raceway.

The Arizona Nationals will mark Hagan’s 335th career Funny Car start and his 15th at Phoenix. He’s recorded three career wins at Phoenix in 2015, 2017 and 2019. In 2015, he defeated Del Worsham with a 3.975 ET at 324.83 mph (compared to Worsham’s 4.010 ET, 318.17 mph run). In 2017, Hagan’s 3.873 ET at 330.88 mph defeated Ron Capps (3.883 ET at 330.88 mph). In 2019, Hagan defeated J.R. Todd with a 3.890 ET at 325.06 mph run (Todd’s car broke on burnout, so he didn’t record a time). He has competed in the final round at Phoenix five times in his last 10 starts (2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2022). Hagan has three No. 1 qualifiers at Phoenix, which came in 2015 (3.978 ET at 320.28 mph), 2020 (3.859 ET at 331.61 mph) and 2022 (3.823 ET at 333.41 mph).

Hagan is the track record holder for time at Phoenix at 3.823-seconds, a mark he established last year (February 26, 2022) while qualifying No. 1.

Hagan has two chances this weekend to win his 50th event in the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series. If successful, he would become the 17th pro driver with 50 tour victories (or the 18th since Pro Stock driver Erica Enders also has two chances at Phoenix to win her 50th). Hagan has won at least three tour events for 11 consecutive seasons, the longest active streak in the series.

By advancing to the Semifinals at the Winternationals, Hagan qualified to participate in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge. The challenge brings competitive racing to the qualifying schedule at 13 regular-season events during the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series campaign, pitting semifinalists from the previous race against each other in a pair of rematches, with the two winners then matching up in the final qualifying session. Hagan earned a rematch against J.R. Todd in Round 1. There is a bonus purse and bonus points for the Countdown to the Championship on the line.

Hagan will participate in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty autograph session on Friday at 2 p.m MT. The session will take place at the Mission Foods Display.

Hagan, Pruett and Stewart will participate in a Dodge autograph session on Friday from 3:15-3:45 p.m. MT and again on Saturday from 10:45-11:15 a.m. MT. Both sessions will take place in the pits at the Dodge display.

The Mopar CAP (Career Automotive Program) will be partnering with TSR on Fridays at nine events this season, starting with the Arizona Nationals. CAP consists of strategic alliances between Stellantis and over 100 colleges and trade schools teaching technical curriculum integrated into the school’s general automotive program, so that students can become certified Stellantis technicians.

DYK? After what the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series thought was the final visit to Phoenix in 2023, the track returned under the newly-named Firebird Motorsports Park. 2024 will mark the 39th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at the legendary track in Chandler.


Tony Stewart, Driver of the TSR Dodge//SRT Direct Connection Top Fuel Dragster

The Arizona Nationals will kickoff TSR’s 2024 partnership with Mopar CAP. The program consists of strategic alliances between Stellantis and over 100 colleges and trade schools teaching technical curriculum integrated into the school’s general automotive program. How valuable is Mopar CAP in recruiting younger talent into the world of motorsports?

“The Mopar CAP program is very crucial to the automotive industry. There’s such a shortage of skilled, talented people in the workforce and the automotive industry that programs like Mopar CAP provide an opportunity for kids that want to be in this industry. It helps manufactures and dealers have access to these students while they’re in school, so I feel like it’s a big advantage.”

The Arizona Nationals serve as a quasi-home race, splitting time with wife Leah Pruett in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. How special are the races you get to compete in out West?

“Pomona and Phoenix are both big races for us. Obviously Pomona is really close to Redlands, California where Leah (Pruett) grew up and was raised, so that’s definitely a home race for her. Having her family there to watch us run wasn’t necessarily more pressure, but you definitely want to perform well in front of your family. With both of us living in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, Phoenix is definitely a home race for us so to speak. It definitely means a lot to us, since we spend just as much time in Arizona as we do in Indiana. We have a lot of friends and fans in Lake Havasu that are going to the race, so we definitely want to perform well there as well.”

Since this is your first time racing at Firebird Motorsports Park, do you anticipate there being any learning curves specific to that track?

“I think having Leah and Matt (Hagan) as teammates, that has really helped me understand the nuances of a new race track like Phoenix because it’s not new to them. They’ve raced a lot of times there and just having their knowledge will expedite the learning process for me, so I think it’ll be a smooth transition getting ready to go to the track that’s new for me.”


Matt Hagan, Driver of the TSR Direct Connection Dodge//SRT Hellcat Funny Car

As part of the Arizona Nationals, you’ll be completing the final-round of the Winternationals. Talk about how special it would be to be able to capture two Wallys in one weekend.

“The Phoenix weekend is going to be very busy during qualifying. We were hoping they would add an extra qualifying session in there, since all three qualifiers to have the potential to be a race. The first and second sessions will be the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge and the third session will be the Finals from Pomona. You race differently than you qualify. The setups on the car are different and your mentality as a driver is different. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. At the end of the day, we really just want to put on a good show for the fans. You couldn’t ask for more to have the opportunity to win two Wallys in one weekend. I think it’ll be a challenging weekend for crew chiefs and drivers, but we’re ready for the challenge. If anyone can do it, TSR can. We’ll have to have the mentality that when you show up for each run, it’s game time.”

By advancing to the Semifinals at the Winternationals, you qualified to participate in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge, where you’ll face off against J.R. Todd. How valuable will the bonus purse and bonus points be towards the Countdown to the Championship?

“Last year, the championship came down to just a few points, so all the bonus points we can get in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge make a big difference. We don’t want to have to pedal the car and blow anything up, but if we can get the points clean, we definitely want to get them. It can mean the difference between a round or two at the end of the season. We try hard to win every round, period. There’s not a race or round we take off. We’re always trying to do the best we can. When something doesn’t go right the first time, it’s a learning curve. It’s only a mistake if you do the same thing twice. We’re always pushing hard and we understand how much our sponsors spend each weekend for us to be there. It’s so valuable for them to believe in us and be a part of our team.”