Tony Stewart Racing wins with Matt Hagan in Funny Car to open NHRA 2023 season

Tony Stewart NHRA win
Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Tony Stewart started the 2023 NHRA season with a win — as a team owner.

Stewart red-lighted in the second round of eliminations in the Top Alcohol class Saturday, but the three-time NASCAR champion finished drag racing’s season opener with Matt Hagan, one of his drivers at Tony Stewart Racing, winning the Funny Car finale at the Gatornationals on Sunday.

Hagan covered the 1,000-foot strip in 3.926 seconds, just enough to drive around JR Todd and leave Stewart hugging and high-fiving his team at Gainesville Raceway.

“Bossman’s happy,” Hagan quipped.

Stewart is beginning his second season as an NHRA team owner. The 1997 IndyCar champion added to his storied racing resume by getting behind the wheel for a full season driving for McPhillips Racing in a lower division.

Little went right during his first two weekends in Gainesville: He lost in the opening round last week at the Baby Gators, an NHRA regional event, and then bowed out earlier than a sellout crowd had hoped for on Saturday.

It was a stark contrast to his first professional drag-racing event last October, when Stewart made the final in his debut at the Nevada Nationals. He lost to college student Madison Payne by an inch – officially a difference of .0002 on the clock.

Stewart hoped to get another shot in Gainesville. But he settled for winning with Hagan, who notched his 44th Funny Car victory and fifth in two years with Stewart. This one moved him into fourth place in Funny Car history, breaking a tie with Tony Pedregon.

It was his second straight victory at the Gatornationals, an event that eluded him for the first 14 years of his NHRA career.

“To win back-to-back Gators, man, tried pretty much my entire career just to win one,” he said. “Super special deal.”

Mike Salinas won the Top Fuel division, with Troy Coughlin Jr. taking Pro Stock and Gaige Herrera claiming Pro Stock Motorcycle.

None of the four reigning series champions even made the semifinals. Brittany Force (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Mike Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were upset in the first or second rounds Sunday.

Force’s trouble was one of many for powerhouse John Force Racing. Austin Prock (Top Fuel) had an issue on the starting line, Robert Hight (Funny Car) spun his tires early in his run and John Force (Funny Car) got edged at the line.

For decades, Force has been the sport’s biggest draw. But Stewart, who married Top Fuel driver Leah Pruett in 2021, has become a fan favorite in a hurry. It was noticeable by the cheers in the stands and the lines throughout the garage.

“When I sign at the T-shirt trailer, my line versus when Tony signs, his line’s a lot longer,” Hagan said. “He’s great for the sport and now he’s involved in driving, so he’s really bitten by the bug. …

“You don’t get a golden goose very often, you know what I mean? You got to support it.”

Saturday’s Supercross Round 11 in Seattle: How to watch, start times, schedules, streams


With three multiple winners now vying for the championship, the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series heads to Round 11 at Lumen Field in Seattle, Washington.

Chase Sexton earned his second victory of the season in Detroit when Aaron Plessinger fell on the final lap. Though he was penalized seven points for disobeying a flag, Sexton is third in the championship race. The Honda rider trails leader Cooper Webb (two victories) by 17 points, and defending series champion Eli Tomac (five wins) is three points behind Webb in second with seven races remaining.

Tomac won last year in Seattle on the way to his second season title.

Honda riders have a Supercross-leading 20 victories in the Seattle event but none at Lumen Field since Justin Barcia in 2013. Tomac and Barcia are the only past 450 Seattke winners entered in Saturday’s event.

Here are the pertinent details for watching Round 11 of the 2023 Supercross season in Seattle:

(All times are ET)

BROADCAST/STREAMING SCHEDULE: TV coverage of Round 11 will begin Saturday at 10 p.m. ET streaming on Peacock with a re-air Monday at 1 a.m. ET on CNBC. The Race Day Live show (including qualifying) will begin on Peacock at 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday.

NBC Sports will have exclusive live coverage of races, qualifiers and heats for the record 31 events in SuperMotocross. The main events will be presented on Peacock, NBC, USA Network, CNBC, and NBC Sports digital platforms.

Peacock will become the home of the SuperMotocross World Championship series in 2023 with live coverage of all races, qualifying, and heats from January to October. There will be 23 races livestreamed exclusively on Peacock, including a SuperMotocross World Championship Playoff event. The platform also will provide on-demand replays of every race. Click here for the full schedule.

POINTS STANDINGS: 450 division l 250 division

ENTRY LISTS450 division l 250 division

EVENT SCHEDULE (all times ET): 

Here are the start times for Saturday’s Supercross Round 11 in Seattle, according to the Monster Energy Supercross schedule from the AMA:

4:50 p.m.: 250SX Group B Qualifying 1
5:05 p.m.: 250SX Group A Qualifying 1
5:20 p.m.: 450SX Group A Qualifying 1
5:35 p.m.: 450SX Group B Qualifying 1
6:25 p.m.: 250SX Group B Qualifying 2
6:40 p.m.: 250SX Group A Qualifying 2
7:55 p.m.: 450SX Group A Qualifying 2
8:10 p.m.: 450SX Group B Qualifying 2
10:06 p.m.: 250SX Heat 1
10:20 p.m.: 250SX Heat 2
10:34 p.m.: 450SX Heat 1
10:48 p.m.: 450SX Heat 2
11:22 p.m.: 250SX Last Chance Qualifier
11:34 p.m.: 450SX Last Chance Qualifier
11:54 p.m.: 250SX Main Event
12:28 a.m.: 450SX Main Event

TRACK LAYOUTClick here to view the track map


FINAL 2022 STANDINGS: 450 points standings | 250 East points standings250 West points standings


ROUND 1: Eli Tomac opens title defense with victory

ROUND 2: Tomac ties Ricky Carmichael on Supercross wins list

ROUND 3: Tomac holds off Cooper Webb again

ROUND 4: Chase Sexton wins Anaheim Triple Crown

ROUND 5: Eli Tomac leads wire to wire in Houston

ROUND 6: Cooper Webb breaks through in Tampa

ROUND 7: Webb wins again in Arlington

ROUND 8: Tomac wins Daytona for the seventh time

ROUND 9: Ken Roczen scores first victory since 2022

ROUND 10: Chase Sexton inherits Detroit victory but docked points


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