Stewart Gets First Win Since Going Straight

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, March 15 2022

Matt Hagan drove his Tony Stewart-owned Funny Car  to victory lane at the Gatornatioals on Sunday.

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

Three-time Funny Car world champion Matt Hagan handed rookie NHRA team-owner Tony Stewart his first “bad-ass” drag racing moment and Wally trophy Sunday, racing to victory at the 53rd annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals.

Competing In his second final in three 2022 starts for Tony Stewart Racing, Hagan wheeled his Dodge Charger Hellcat SRT to a 1,000-foot run in 3.910-seconds at 330.96 mph to beat Blake Alexander.

The event at historic Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway marked the traditional East Coast opener of the 22-race NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.

Surprisingly, Hagan’s 40th career victory was his first at the famed Florida facility. Hagan reached the final via round-wins against Dave Richards, Terry Haddock and Chad Green. Hagan, who exited Don Schumacher Racing to join Stewart’s start-up NHRA organization during the offseason, posted a No. 1 qualifier and runnerup result for the former three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion before bagging Sunday’s victory.

“To get this first win at the Gatornationals and Tony Stewart’s first win in a drag car, it’s pretty awesome,” said Hagan, a 39-year-old native of Christiansburg, Va. “He wants to be here, and it says a lot for our sport. It was a good weekend for Tony, a good weekend for NHRA and I’m just very blessed and humbled to be here. I want to make sure I’m showing up on the starting line and doing my part and I just know what this team is capable of. It’s a lot of tough competition, but as a driver that’s exciting.

“It just was a big weekend for me personally because I’ve been wanting to win this race and check it off on my career box. I think this allows me to accomplish everything I’ve ever set out to do in NHRA.”

Tripp Tatum (Top Fuel), Dallas Glenn (Pro Stock) and Karen Stoffer (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also emerged as winners during the season’s third national event.

Hagan’s teammate at TSR is Top Fuel driver Leah Pruett, whom Stewart married during the offseason. Pruett left DSR to race for her hubby in 2022 and beyond in a partnership with Dodge//SRT and Mopar.

TSR’s first national event win allowed Stewart to join an exclusive list of team-owners with victories in both NHRA and NASCAR _ Raymond Beadle, Kenny Bernstein, Joe Gibbs and Jack Roush.

“This is pretty bad-ass, especially at the Gatornationals,” said Stewart, aka Smoke Johnson. “We’ve got two awesome race teams that work their butts off. I’m really proud of all these guys.

“Everyone in racing knows the value of OEM support and its importance to a team’s success. We’re pleased to have that relationship with Dodge in drag racing and how that quickly culminated in our first Funny Car win at the NHRA Gatornationals.”

Working with longtime crew chief Dickie Venables, Hagan said his first victory with TSR was merely a matter of time.

“Not to brag or boast, but Dickie Venables is a genius,” Hagan said. “Dickie can do things with a race car and just go off of his gut instinct; the things that he does are just phenomenal. When you look at the stats and the numbers, we basically won more races together than anybody else in the last 10 years. It’s chemistry. You can’t buy it. You click and work together and we have a group of individuals that are driven and goal-oriented.

“It’s exciting for me. It’s one of those things where, when it’s good, it’s just really good, and that’s what we have here with our team.”

In addition to Venables, Hagan’s tuning brain trust includes Mike Knudson and Alex Conaway.

“There was definitely a different kind of feel to it (Sunday) because the air was different and the track was different, and a lot of these big-hitting cars couldn’t pull their stuff back enough,” Hagan said. “They (his crew chiefs) did a great job this weekend putting a good race car underneath me to go down the racetrack.”

Alexander, meanwhile, marked his first appearance of the 2022 season by advancing to his fifth career final in impressive fashion. Alexander defeated 2018 world champion J.R. Todd, two-time world champion Cruz Pedregon and two-time/reigning world champ Ron Capps.

The series returns to action April 1-3 with the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.


A day after picking up his first career Top Fuel pole, Tripp Tatum drove to his first career victory with a 1,000-foot pass in 3.700-seconds at 330.31 mph in his Tripp Tatum Racing dragster. Making just his 12th career start, Tatum trailered Lex Joon, Billy Torrence and point- leader Mike Salinas to reach the final.

On Saturday, Tatum qualified No. 1 at 3.674-seconds at 331.53 mph. He was as-focused on Sunday, streaking past Doug Foley for the victory.

“This is pretty neat,” said Tatum, a 52-year-old native of Avon, Ind. “My dad was at the first Gatornationals and my first career race was at the Gatornationals. This is just surreal and it’s not even close to setting in. There’s a lot of excitement now and this was a gigantic step for this team. I never really thought about winning _ it’s been overwhelming _ and that’s all because of the Capco family.”

Tatum, who formed his team in 2021, is competing under a technical alliance with four-time/reigning world champion Steve Torrence and the Torrence Racing organization.

“For me, I’m a lucky guy to have this opportunity to do this with the way Top Fuel is and the competition level in this class,” Tatum said. “It’s pretty awesome.”

Foley advanced to his first career final round after knocking off Spencer Massey, Clay Millican and Justin Ashley in what easily was his most successful day as a Top Fuel driver.


In Pro Stock, Dallas Glenn out-drove KB Racing teammate Kyle Koretsky in the final, covering the quarter-mile in 6.486-seconds at 210.21 mph. Glenn, NHRA’s reigning Rookie of the Year, earned his fourth career victory and first this season, while also giving KB Racing its first win of 2022 after Elite Motorsports dominated the opening two races.

Glenn, a 21-year-old resident of Mooresville, N.C., knocked off Troy Coughlin Jr., point-leader Aaron Stanfield and Rodger Brogdon to reach the final against Koretsky.

“The track felt great all weekend and we felt pretty good going into race day,” said Glenn, driver of his Chevrolet Camaro SS. “The car made an absolutely beautiful run in the final. The new car is working fantastic and to knock off a win really early in the season really gets me excited for the rest of the year.”

Glenn won three national events in 2021 while compiling a 29-14 record in eliminations.

“You get a season under your belt and then it’s a different pressure, but we ran great on race day,” Glenn said. “It should be a really fun season if we can continue to run like this. But this category is so tough and it’s really awesome right now.”

Koretsky _ son of longtime Pro Stock and Top Fuel driver Kenny Koretsky _ advanced to a final for the sixth time in his career, picking up round wins against Fernando Cuadra, Camrie Caruso, and Mason McGaha.

In the opening-round, four-time world champion Erica Enders of Elite Motorsports recorded the quickest pass in Pro Stock history at 6.450-seconds and 213.57 mph in a losing effort against 2017 world champ Bo Butner.


Karen Stoffer authored one of the most impressive weekends in Pro Stock Motorcycle history in the traditional season-opener for the two-wheel class.

Stoffer covered the quarter-mile in 6.700-seconds at 200.77 mph aboard her Big St. Charles/Ray Skillman Suzuki to beat Angie Smith in the final. A 57-year-old resident of Gardnerville, Nev., Stoffer claimed her 11th career victory after advancing to a final for the fourth straight race, dating to last season.

Stoffer took advantage of the conditions to make the two quickest runs in Pro Stock Bike history, going 6.682-seconds at 198.70 mph in the opening round to initially set the record before topping it with an astounding 6.665 at 200.71 one round later. Stoffer added a pass at 6.721 at 200.08 to reach the final _ with her performance in the final ranking as the third-quickest run in class history.

“I knew the conditions were fantastic and out of the box, the bike was on fire,” said Stoffer, who now has three Gatornationals wins. “Gainesville is like my second home. I’ve spent a lot of time here; I feel really comfortable racing here and I’ve done well.”

Stoffer, who made her PSM debut in 1996, is competing as part of 2016 world champ Jerry Savoie’s White Alligator Racing team.

“When you look at that whole package, it means a lot and it’s definitely a dream come true to win and set a record at one of my favorite tracks,” said Stoffer, who has logged 13 top-10 point finishes in her career. “I love it here and it’s really nice to know we were able to cement something and say we were the first bike in the 6.60s.”

Smith had a strong weekend as well, advancing to her third career final after round-wins against Chris Bostick, Steve Johnson and Joey Gladstone.


Final finishing order (1-16) at the 53rd annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway. The race was the third of 22 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series.

Top Fuel _ 1. Tripp Tatum; 2. Doug Foley; 3. Justin Ashley; 4. Mike Salinas; 5. Doug Kalitta; 6. Steve Torrence; 7. Billy Torrence; 8. Clay Millican; 9. Tony Schumacher; 10. Josh Hart; 11. Spencer Massey; 12. Austin Prock; 13. Krista Baldwin; 14. Lex Joon; 15. Alex Laughlin; 16. Brittany Force.

Funny Car _ 1. Matt Hagan; 2. Blake Alexander; 3. Chad Green; 4. Ron Capps; 5. John Force; 6. Cruz Pedregon; 7. Robert Hight; 8. Terry Haddock; 9. Jim Campbell; 10. Paul Lee; 11. Tim Wilkerson; 12. Bob Tasca III; 13. Dave Richards; 14. J.R. Todd; 15. Alexis DeJoria; 16. John Smith.

Pro Stock _ 1. Dallas Glenn; 2. Kyle Koretsky; 3. Mason McGaha; 4. Rodger Brogdon; 5. Aaron Stanfield; 6. Matt Hartford; 7. Camrie Caruso; 8. Bo Butner; 9. Erica Enders; 10. Greg Anderson; 11. Deric Kramer; 12. Fernando Cuadra Jr.; 13. Fernando Cuadra; 14. Stefan Emryd; 15. Cristian Cuadra; 16. Troy Coughlin Jr.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Karen Stoffer; 2. Angie Smith; 3. Joey Gladstone; 4. Jerry Savoie; 5. Marc Ingwersen; 6. Steve Johnson; 7. Eddie Krawiec; 8. Lance Bonham; 9. Ryan Oehler; 10. Kelly Clontz; 11. Chris Bostick; 12. Angelle Sampey; 13. Matt Smith; 14. Jim Underdahl; 15. Michael Phillips; 16. David Barron.

Final class results from the 53rd annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals:

Top Fuel _ Tripp Tatum, 3.700-seconds, 330.31 mph def. Doug Foley, 3.806-seconds, 307.37 mph.

Funny Car _ Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.910, 330.96 def. Blake Alexander, Ford Mustang, 9.561, 80.15.

Pro Stock _ Dallas Glenn, Chevy Camaro, 6.486, 210.21 def. Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.513, 211.46.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.700, 200.77 def. Angie Smith, EBR, 6.723, 201.28.

Pro Modified _ Kris Thorne, Chevy Camaro, 5.642, 255.10 def. Sidnei Frigo, Chevy Chevelle, 5.716, 251.81.

Factory Stock Showdown _ Leonard Lottig, Chevy Camaro, 7.704, 177.67 def. Anthony Troyer, Camaro, 7.731, 177.07.

Final round-by-round results from the 53rd annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals:


ROUND ONE _ Billy Torrence, 4.020, 303.23 def. Austin Prock, 5.179, 129.02; Doug Foley, 3.762, 311.41 def. Spencer Massey, 4.253, 187.47; Justin Ashley, 3.687, 331.45 def. Josh Hart, 3.759, 305.42; Doug Kalitta, 3.708, 330.80 def. Alex Laughlin, 7.980, 82.78; Mike Salinas, 3.706, 330.47 def. Krista Baldwin, 5.312, 126.99; Clay Millican, 3.722, 326.24 def. Brittany Force, 8.317, 78.33; Tripp Tatum, 3.677, 329.58 def. Lex Joon, 6.591, 102.44; Steve Torrence, 3.696, 327.43 def. Tony Schumacher, 3.735, 313.29;

QUARTERFINALS _ Foley, 3.809, 313.51 def. Millican, Foul/Red Light; Tatum, 3.727, 326.95 def. B. Torrence, 3.748, 326.24; Ashley, 3.683, 331.61 def. S. Torrence, 3.703, 327.19; Salinas, 3.698, 331.45 def. Kalitta, 3.701, 330.47;

SEMIFINALS _Tatum, 3.709, 327.82 def. Salinas, 10.755, 72.44; Foley, 3.774, 313.15 def. Ashley, 9.643, 78.92;

FINAL _Tatum, 3.700, 330.31 def. Foley, 3.806, 307.37. 


ROUND ONE _ John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.332, 289.01 def. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 6.927, 126.99; Terry Haddock, Mustang, 4.094, 290.19 def. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Supra, Foul/Centerline; Cruz Pedregon, Dodge Charger, 3.914, 326.95 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.124, 261.02; Robert Hight, Camaro, 8.457, 82.92 def. John Smith, Charger, Broke; Blake Alexander, Mustang, 3.966, 321.81 def. J.R. Todd, Supra, 10.930, 81.58; Matt Hagan, Charger, 5.266, 258.57 def. Dave Richards, Mustang, 9.057, 83.17; Ron Capps, Charger, 3.864, 336.23 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 8.552, 75.02; Chad Green, Mustang, 3.953, 323.58 def. Paul Lee, Charger, 4.492, 195.62;

QUARTERFINALS _ Hagan, 4.021, 315.42 def. Haddock, Broke; Alexander, 3.927, 325.14 def. Pedregon, Foul/Red Light; Capps, 3.913, 327.90 def. Force, 4.096, 324.59; Green, 3.987, 320.36 def. Hight, 6.631, 102.17;

SEMIFINALS _ Hagan, 3.894, 332.84 def. Green, 4.011, 288.33; Alexander, 3.938, 322.96 def. Capps, 9.299, 80.52;

FINAL _ Hagan, 3.910, 330.96 def. Alexander, 9.561, 80.15. 


ROUND ONE _ Dallas Glenn, Chevy Camaro, 6.478, 210.05 def. Troy Coughlin Jr., Camaro, Foul/Red Light; Camrie Caruso, Camaro, 6.491, 213.10 def. Cristian Cuadra, Ford Mustang, 12.740, 54.58; Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.521, 211.49 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.492, 211.73; Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.511, 212.33 def. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.513, 211.73; Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.515, 211.86 def. Fernando Cuadra Jr., Mustang, Foul/Red Light; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.513, 212.33 def. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.450, 213.57; Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.486, 212.26 def. Fernando Cuadra, Mustang, 6.524, 211.46; Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.457, 213.47 def. Stefan Emryd, Dodge Dart, 6.607, 207.46; 

QUARTERFINALS _ M. McGaha, 6.522, 211.33 def. Butner, 6.622, 210.54; Brogdon, 6.515, 210.83 def. Hartford, 6.515, 211.96; Koretsky, 6.491, 212.23 def. Caruso, 6.548, 211.83; Glenn, 6.506, 210.73 def. Stanfield, 6.504, 213.43;

SEMIFINALS _ Glenn, 6.502, 210.64 def. Brogdon, Foul – Red Light; Koretsky, 6.498, 212.46 def. M. McGaha, 6.539, 211.49;

FINAL _ Glenn, 6.486, 210.21 def. Koretsky, 6.513, 211.46.


ROUND ONE _ Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.781, 196.73 def. Ryan Oehler, 6.833, 197.91; Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.866, 198.52 def. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 6.877, 193.77; Angie Smith, EBR, 6.812, 201.19 def. Chris Bostick, Suzuki, 7.129, 192.30; Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.682, 198.70 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 9.686, 83.65; Eddie Krawiec, Suzuki, 6.884, 198.79 def. Michael Phillips, Buell, 16.508, 54.52; Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 10.687, 89.13 def. David Barron, Broke/No Show; Marc Ingwersen, Buell, 6.854, 195.03 def. Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 8.309, 105.00; Lance Bonham, Buell, 7.444, 181.13 def. Matt Smith, Suzuki, 8.565, 113.56; 

QUARTERFINALS _ Gladstone, 6.784, 197.91 def. Ingwersen, 6.849, 197.42; A. Smith, 6.764, 200.62 def. Johnson, 6.860, 198.38; Savoie, 6.815, 194.32 def. Bonham, 7.116, 188.04; Stoffer, 6.665, 200.71 def. Krawiec, 6.927, 197.74; 

SEMIFINALS _ A. Smith, 6.738, 201.01 def. Gladstone, 6.884, 198.29; Stoffer, 6.721, 200.08 def. Savoie, 7.735, 124.21; 

FINAL _ Stoffer, 6.700, 200.77 def. A. Smith, 6.723, 201.28.

Point standings (top-10) following the 53rd annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals:

Top Fuel _1. Mike Salinas, 256; 2. Justin Ashley, 233; 3. Steve Torrence, 209; 4. Brittany Force, 178; 5. Clay Millican, 173; 6. Tripp Tatum, 160; 7. Josh Hart, 157; 8. Doug Foley, 155; 9. Austin Prock, 146; 10. Doug Kalitta, 130.

Funny Car _1. Robert Hight, 308; 2. Matt Hagan, 297; 3. Ron Capps, 231; 4. Cruz Pedregon, 188; 5. John Force, 155; 6. Tim Wilkerson, 149; 7. Bob Tasca III, 137; 8. Alexis DeJoria, 135; 9. Chad Green, 131; 10. J.R. Todd, 118.

Pro Stock _1. Aaron Stanfield, 285; 2. Erica Enders, 225; 3. Kyle Koretsky, 218; 4. Dallas Glenn, 198; 5. Mason McGaha, 175; 6. Greg Anderson, 167; 7. (tie) Rodger Brogdon, 158; Troy Coughlin Jr., 158; 9. Deric Kramer, 144; 10. Camrie Caruso, 139.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Karen Stoffer, 110; 2. Angie Smith, 90; 3. (tie) Joey Gladstone, 70; Jerry Savoie, 70; 5. (tie) Lance Bonham, 50; Marc Ingwersen, 50; Steve Johnson, 50; Eddie Krawiec, 50; 9. (tie) David Barron, 30; Chris Bostick, 30; Kelly Clontz, 30; Ryan Oehler, 30; Angelle Sampey, 30; Matt Smith, 30; Jim Underdahl, 30.

(Editor’s Note: John Sturbin is a Texas-based journalist specializing in motorsports. During a near 30-year career with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he won the Bloys Britt Award for top motorsports story of the year (1991) as judged by The Associated Press; received the National Hot Rod Association’s Media Award (1997) and several in-house Star-Telegram honors. He also was inaugural recipient of the Texas Motor Speedway Excellence in Journalism Award (2009). His list of freelance clients has included Texas Motor Speedway, the Dallas Morning News, New York Newsday, Rome (N.Y) Daily Sentinel, Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller Times, NASCAR Wire Service and Ford Racing).


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, March 15 2022
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