NHRA Funny Car Champ Matt Hagan Shares What It's Like to Drive for Tony Stewart

a man shaking another man's hand
Here's What It's Like to Drive for Tony StewartNHRA/National Dragster

Rarely does a race car driver refer to his team owner as a “good dude,” but that’s the way four-time NHRA Funny Car champion Matt Hagan refers to Tony Stewart, who this year also became his teammate when he took over wife Leah Pruett’s Top Fuel dragster.

“I can actually give him a bunch of crap,” Hagan says. “He’s always my boss, but now he’s a teammate and I look at him more as a teammate than a boss.”

Hagan figures as long as he receives his paycheck, he’s “good to go.”

“Tony is really a funny guy,” Hagan says. “He can dish it out, but he can also take it and that’s what I love about it. We have a really great chemistry. We have some real good synergy. His dynamic there is very family based, family oriented. We all have one common goal, but it’s still nice to … pick on him. That’s what’s been really cool with the dynamic with him as my boss.”


Hagan says he never had that type of relationship with his former team owner of 15 years Don Schumacher, who died last year.

“When Schumacher walked in it was yes sir, no sir and you try to get out of the way,” Hagan says. “When Tony walks in I’m like, ‘What’ve you got for me today, buddy?’ He just makes it fun to come into work.”

Hagan expects Stewart to win a NHRA Top Fuel event this year.

“He’s just gifted and natural about anything he does,” Hagan says. “He stepped into a (Top) Fuel car and hit the ground running. He stepped into my Funny Car, which I was like, ‘Ha! We’re gonna watch this happen. He’ll bounce it off the wall or something like that.’ The guy was just a natural even in my car.

"My cars are extremely hard to drive. The Funny Cars are short wheelbase with a lot of horsepower. He just picked right up on it. Maybe I’ll be taking some notes from him before the year’s over. I wish I could talk trash on him, but he’s been a good dude.”