At last weekend’s Four-Wide Nationals in Las Vegas, it was evident that several drivers have begun to separate themselves from the field in their respective categories of the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series.
Tony Stewart Racing’s Matt Hagan made his third trip to the winner’s circle in Funny Car, while KB Titan Racing’s Dallas Glenn raced to a second consecutive event win in Pro Stock. The two drivers extended their point leads following their victories at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The main shakeup occurred in Top Fuel, as Antron Brown defeated defending champion Brittany Force in the final elimination, collecting his first win of the year.
With an off-weekend between the Las Vegas four-wides and the series stop at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C., for another round of four-lane competition, the turnaround is tight for teams and drivers to debrief and swing back into action.
TSR Extends Funny Car Lead With Hagan, While Boss Man Stewart Scores In Top Alcohol
Hagan is quickly becoming the man to beat in the Funny Car category. With three wins in four races, the Haas Automotive Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat driver is sitting pretty with a 105-point lead over defending champion Ron Capps.
Prior to the final elimination against Chad Green, the pressure was on Hagan’s shoulders after team owner Tony Stewart earned his first national NHRA win in the Top Alcohol dragster class.
“After [Stewart] won here, he came to my car and said, ‘Now it’s your turn to win!’ Wow, I wasn’t feeling any pressure until then. But our crew, led by Dickie Venables, has been so good this year that I just needed to be good on the line. And that car ran strong to the finish,” Hagan said.
Meanwhile, TSR’s Top Fuel driver Leah Pruett experienced a second-round exit during Sunday’s eliminations, falling to Brown, Force and Rob Passey.
Despite the loss, Pruett is focusing on the positives.
“I’m pleased with the momentum we are making. Both Antron [Brown] and Brittany [Force] are world champions, and we ran right with them. So, we may have lost that round, but we were so close to advancing to the next one,” Pruett said.
She is fifth in the Top Fuel standings.
Brown Masters A ‘Battle Of Royals’
Brown might’ve made a lot of changes to his Matco Tool dragster over the offseason, but one thing that didn’t vary was his ability to make things happen on the drag strip.
Late last season, Brown found the sweet spot with his 11,000-horsepower machine and launched straight into a series of monumental victories, beginning with his triumph at the illustrious Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals in September.
What was even more impressive about his three-win season was the fact that he did it as a first-year team owner — Brown is now running a second campaign with his AB Motorsports operation.
On Sunday in Las Vegas, the 47-year-old was at it again and defeated Force, Steve Torrence and Josh Hart in his final elimination round.
“When you go out there in the final round with people who win races and win championships, it was a battle of royals. To go out there and win, that was definitely a statement,” Brown said.
However, the Four-Wide Nationals didn’t go exactly as Brown planned, as he qualified ninth and struggled to adapt to the track early in the weekend. But the AB Motorsports team still came through when it mattered. His 3.760-second lap (319.75 mph) barely edged out Force’s 3.769-second elapsed time.
Brown is hoping to further establish AB Motorsports as a top-tier team by the time the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff stretch comes around in September, that way he won’t have to “play catch up” like he did last year.
He entered the Countdown sixth in the standings, but fought his way up to second by season’s end.
This year, he’s hoping to start better.
“We want to go in there in the top three. That’s the game plan,” Brown said. “We want to learn from every lap that we go.”