NHRA Midwest Nationals
World Wide Technology Raceway
September 30 - October 2, 2022
Notes of Interest:
The NHRA Midwest Nationals near St. Louis is the 19th race on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series’ 22-race schedule and it is the third round in the six-race Countdown to the Championship. Tony Stewart Racing(TSR) drivers Leah Pruett (Top Fuel) and Matt Hagan (Funny Car) are both in the Countdown, with 2022 marking Pruett’s sixth appearance in the NHRA postseason and Hagan’s 11th.
Pruett is 10th in the Top Fuel standings heading into St. Louis, 178 points behind championship leader Justin Ashley. Hagan is third in the Funny Car standings, 60 points behind leader Robert Hight. Pruett’s best career points finish is fourth, earned three times (2018, 2019 and 2020). Hagan is a three-time champion (2011, 2014 and 2020).
Pruett is representing Sparkling Ice +Caffeine on her Top Fuel dragster at St. Louis. Hagan, meanwhile, has Baja Vida Snacks on his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car.
Sparkling Ice +Caffeine is a zero sugar, full-flavored sparkling water containing 70 milligrams of caffeine, along with vitamins and antioxidants. Sparkling Ice +Caffeine comes in six refreshing flavors: Black Raspberry, Blue Raspberry, Cherry Vanilla, Orange Passion Fruit, Strawberry and Citrus Twist. Pruett has served as an ambassador for Sparkling Ice since 2014 and the brand has been a part of all 10 of her Top Fuel victories.
Pruett’s Top Fuel dragster will also feature Rite in the Rainas an associate sponsor. Rite in the Rain is a line of All-Weather notebooks and pens designed to handle any weather or environment. The Rite in the Rain story began nearly a century ago in the forests of the Great Northwest. Entrepreneur Jerry Darling recognized the logging industry’s need for a durable material that could be written on and survive in poor weather conditions. Darling developed a special coating that created a unique moisture shield on the hand-dipped sheets of paper. Located in Tacoma, Washington, Rite in the Rain’s continued mission is to provide products for professionals and enthusiasts who brave the outdoors.
The NHRA Midwest Nationals will be Pruett’s 190th career Top Fuel start and her seventh at St. Louis. For Hagan, the NHRA Midwest Nationals will be his 312th career Funny Car start and his 13th at the track.
Pruett is seeking her first victory in the NHRA Midwest Nationals, as well as her first No. 1 qualifier at the event. Pruett has gone to the semifinals in three of her last four appearances (2018, 2019 and 2021). However, Pruett does own a win at the track – 2018 in Factory Stock Showdown. She has also competed in Pro Mod at St. Louis, advancing to the second round in 2012
DYK? Built in 1967 solely as a drag-racing facility, St. Louis initially began as a 1/8-mile drag strip until the track was extended to a full 1/4-mile in 1971. Having been developed on dormant swampland that was long ago buried by the Mississippi River, the track soon adapted the nickname “The Swamp.” The facility now features a 1.25-mile oval that hosts the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NTT INDYCAR Series, as well as a 2-mile infield road course and a state-of-the-art karting facility.
Leah Pruett, Driver of the Sparkling Ice + Caffeine Top Fuel Dragster
St. Louis is known for being one of the faster tracks on the NHRA circuit. What makes the venue so unique?
“The fall Midwest, crisp weather makes for prime track conditions. Also, many teams are really dialed into their performance program at this point in the season. As teams get solid in their stride, elapsed times tend to plunge, especially midway into the Countdown. It’s do or darn near die trying to make a difference in your points standing.”
You and your team will focus on tuning your car to a maximum level at St. Louis. For the novice drag racing fan, explain the effect added tuning has on the parts and pieces of your Sparking Ice +Caffeine Top Fuel dragster.
“In the most ideal world, we would have maximum performance with minimal parts attrition. We expect to be able to push harder, while keeping our rotating assembly of parts healthy, but it’s usually bearings and pistons that take the most beating when the wick is turned up. You can even have a burnt gasket or head, which can be seen by a change in header pipe flame pattern and color, or additional flames in the wrong places. There are a strong handful of teams that have destroyed dozens of big ticket items like engine blocks, superchargers, injectors, etc., in search of maximizing their tune-up. My crew and crew chiefs have done a phenomenal job of running competitively, while keeping me and our parts safe as we systematically improve our overall package. It’s not something that happens overnight. It takes dozens of races and test sessions for the complete picture to come together of how to safely and effectively move forward.”
You’ve advanced to the semifinals in three of your last four appearances at St. Louis. Explain how significant it would be to advance to the finals now that we’re at the halfway point in the Countdown.
“The significance of making it to the finals in St. Louis would mean that we will have had the best hot rod and driver package that we’ve had all year. The competition is exponentially stiff and our program will have elevated at a high rate of speed throughout qualifying and eliminations to make it through that field. We have the mindset and strategy going into St. Louis qualifying to do just that with our Sparkling Ice +Caffeine dragster.”
Contact Ashley Wilson
True Speed Communication on behalf of Tony Stewart Racing
(303) 594-8147 or Ashley.Wilson@TrueSpeedCommunication.com