The co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing is taking on a different form of motorsports. NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart has announced that he will join the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) in 2022 with two full-time entries.
Tony Stewart Racing issued a press release on Thursday, October 14, announcing the formation of the NHRA team. 39-time event winner Matt Hagan will drive the Funny Car entry while nine-time event winner Leah Pruett will run the Top Fuel entry.
“When I retired from fulltime driving I said it wasn’t the end, but the beginning of a new chapter. This is proof of that,” Stewart said in the press release. “I appreciate all forms of racing and I’ve always been intrigued about drag racing and NHRA, in particular. Back in 2009 when Tony Schumacher and I were both representing the U.S. Army, I got to hang out with him and Don Schumacher at the U.S. Nationals. Tony ended up winning and after taking it all in, I was hooked. But it wasn’t until I met Leah and started going to races regularly, where I saw the strategy and the preparation firsthand, that I truly understood it.”
Stewart Has Become a Mainstay at NHRA Events
The driver-turned-owner has a deep love of motorsports, regardless of series, and he has put it on full display at events across the country. Stewart has been a mainstay at a multitude of events, both as an observer and a spectator.
According to the press release, he began attending NHRA events last year when he and Pruett began dating. They are now engaged and have a wedding date set after the final event of the season, which will take place in Ponoma.
Stewart is newer to NHRA, but he has used his history in motorsports to quickly make strides. He found two very successful drivers and added them to the roster. He also added the NHRA operation to an existing 25,000-square-foot facility in Brownsburg, Ind.
“Beginning with Don Schumacher, I’ve probably annoyed everyone in the paddock with all the questions I’ve asked, but the more I learned about drag racing, the less I wanted to just be a spectator,” Stewart said in the press release. “I want to be an integral part of it. And I don’t do things halfway. I go all in. But I’m smart enough to know that I don’t need to be a rookie owner and a rookie driver, so I made sure to get two of the best NHRA drivers in Leah and Matt. I’m going to lean on their experience so we can hit the ground running in 2022.”
Stewart Already Has Success in Multiple Motorsports
The move to NHRA will be a big step for Tony Stewart Racing, but it will not be the first for the former NASCAR driver. Stewart has already expanded to multiple motorsports and achieved considerable success.
TSR began competing in 2001 and has captured a total of 27 owner championships — 14 in USAC (United States Auto Club), nine in the World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series, and four in the All-Star Circuit of Champions TQ Midgets.
Additionally, Stewart also created the Camping World SRX Series with Ray Evernham, Sandy Montag, and George Pyne. This new racing series featured specially-built cars, six shorts tracks spread across the country, and a wide variety of superstar drivers. Bill Elliott, Michael Waltrip, Tony Kanaan, Stewart, Hélio Castroneves, and Paul Tracy all made starts along with several special guests.
As a NASCAR owner, Stewart has fielded two cars that won Cup Series driver’s championships. He won the 2011 title while Kevin Harvick won in 2014, adding two trophies to the collection.
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