NASCAR Legend Tony Stewart Starts Up Engine on New Drag Racing Team

by Matthew Memrick
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Retired racer Tony Stewart’s need for speed is still there, and the owner is starting a two-car NHRA team in 2002.

The three-time NASCAR Cup winner Tony Stewart Racing team will have full-time cars in Top Fuel and Funny Car divisions. Stewart’s fiancee, Leah Pruett, will drive the Top Fuel car while 39-time event winner Matt Hagan will run in the Funny Car class.

Both drivers left Don Schumacher Racing for Stewart, who announced his new teams in Charlotte on Thursday.

According to the NHRA, additional details with corporate partners, car manufacturers, and technical alliances will come later.

Stewart’s NHRA and sprint cars will operate out of his Brownsburg, Ind. shop. It is a 25,000-square-foot facility.

Stewart All About Racing

The legendary driver still co-owns a NASCAR team with Gene Haas. After running with IndyCar from 1997 to 2001, he made the jump to NASCAR. He wrapped up his 19-year Cup racing career in 2016. 

But the 50-year-old racing aficionado has still been pretty active.    

“I appreciate all forms of racing, and I’ve always been intrigued about drag racing and NHRA, in particular,” Stewart said.

Stewart cites his past experiences with Tony Schumacher and Don Schumacher as a cause for his early interest in NHRA racing.

Since dating Pruett, Stewart has taken in many NHRA races in the past year. The couple got engaged and planned to marry in November after the Pomona season finale.

Stewart said he’s studied up on the sport, asking questions of everyone, including Don Schumacher. He told the media that he wanted to be fully involved in his team. He also said he didn’t want to be a rookie owner with rookie drivers, so his next big step involved getting the best NHRA drivers he could.

Stewart’s race team started in November 2020. Since then, the Indiana native has had 27 owner championships with 14 in USAC, nine in World of Outlaws Sprint Car, and four in the All Star Circut of Champions TQ Midgets. He supports 10-time World of Outlaws champ Donny Schatz in the team’s sprint car program. 

Stewart has built past racing teams “from the ground up” and says success for his NHRA team will be “much more rewarding.”

TSR will make its NHRA debut during the 2022 season opener on Feb. 17-20 at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. 

More on the Drivers

The 33-year-old Pruett has 25 straight years of NHRA experience. Recently, she’s competed in Top Fuel and the Factory Stock Showdown class. She won a Factory Stock title with Don Schumacher Racing in 2018.

“I’m an NHRA lifer, and nitro racing is my passion,” Pruett said. 

Pruett thanked Don Schumacher for all of his help over the years and said she was excited about her new team.

As for Hagan, the three-time and current Funny Car champ leads the points standings with a trio of races left. The 38-year-old driver is also into cattle with a 3,200-acre Virginia farm.

“This next chapter with Tony Stewart is one I’m excited for,” Hagan said. I’m ready to go racing. That’s what I’m here to do. I’m jumping into this new program with two feet, and I’m confident in the package we’re bringing into the 2022 season with TSR. Let’s make some history.”

Outsider.com