Saturday, February 24, 2024

Tony Stewart joins Top Fuel Dragster ranks in place of his wife Leah Pruett

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By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher

This past season, Tony Stewart competed in the Top Alcohol Dragster ranks. Now, as of Thursday, he is making the step up.

Stewart announced, along with his wife, Leah Pruett, at the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) show in Indianapolis that he will be competing in the Top Fuel Dragster ranks in 2024. Pruett also announced at the same press conference that she is stepping away from her ride to focus on having a family.

Drag Racer Tony Stewart sits in the cockpit of his McPhillips Racing dragster during the NHRA Nevada Nationals Camping World Drag Racing Series
Tony Stewart sits in the cockpit of his McPhillips Racing dragster during the NHRA Nevada Nationals Camping World Drag Racing Series (Photo by Jeff Speer/LVMS/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“Drag racing has been an important part of my life for over three-quarters of my life,” Pruett said. “Twenty-seven years of racing in the NHRA has molded who I am, and I am extremely grateful for the life it has given me. Through a long series of thought processes and a decision that did not happen overnight, I feel that stepping out of the seat right now is what’s best for myself and Tony to start a family.”

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Stewart had been competing in Top Alcohol Dragster with the Phoenixville, Pennsylvania-based McPhillips Racing team. No word yet on who will replace him in that ride.

Pruett is a 12-time event winner. She has been competing in Top Fuel for the last 14 seasons for a variety of teams.

“This has been one of the most difficult decisions to make because of what we have collectively created at TSR: a highly successful program and enjoyable operation,” Pruett said. “I had the best finish of my entire career. To step away from that can be a challenging move, but I had already made up my mind long before we were deep in the championship hunt. I’m excited about how competitive this team is, developed through the leadership of Neal Strausbaugh and Mike Domagala, and to be able to have Tony compete in a very safe, vetted, and well-performing car with an established team makes my heart happy.”

The 52-year-old Stewart previously driven Leah’s Top Fuel Dragster in test sessions and attended Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School. He is a multi-time champion in a variety of racing disciplines and will bring that experience with him to his 330-mph ride.

Stewart previously won the 2002, 2005, and 2011 NASCAR Cup Series Championships. He also won the 1997 IndyCar Championship. Plus, he was the 1994 USAC Nation Midget Series Champion and the 1995 USAC Triple Crown Champion.

Pruett and Stewart married in November 2021. Tony Stewart Nitro was launched before the 2022 NHRA season.

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While Stewart competed in Top Alcohol Dragster, he won two national events. He won the national events at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Las Vegas and then the Pep Boys NHRA Nationals in Pennsylvania.

Plus, he also won two divisional events in Indianapolis last May and then again in Pennsylvania in August.

“I enjoyed my time in the Top Alcohol Dragster class,” said Stewart. “I absolutely loved racing with the McPhillips Racing family, and as far as I’m concerned, they’re a part of my family now. It’s hard to leave those guys, but to have an opportunity like this, where you have your wife, who’s also the driver, and the crew chief feel you’re capable of coming in and doing the job is very flattering. I’m very honored to be able to fill in for her until she’s ready to come back.”

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Anthony Caruso III
Anthony Caruso IIIhttps://thecapitalsportsreport.com
Anthony Caruso III is the Publisher of The Capital Sports Report. He has been in the Journalism field since August 2002. Since that time, Mr. Caruso has covered many marquee events. This includes 13 Heisman Trophy ceremonies, 2 Little World Series events, and one Army-Navy College Football game.
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