The minute we saw Tony Stewart testing a top fuel dragster a few years ago, we began wondering if we’d ever see him in the cockpit for NHRA competition. And when the Tony Stewart Racing team stepped into the NHRA with drivers Leah Pruett and Matt Hagan our suspicions got even more acute.
And, now…it’s official.
Announced via social media and a Dodge//SRT Direct Connection press release, Leah Pruett is stepping away from racing to focus on family. In her place will be team owner (and husband) Tony Stewart.
Yup, Smoke himself will be racing in the NHRA Top Fuel Class in 2024.
Stewart has already found success in NASCAR, IndyCar, and the USAC; better still, he had an awesome run in 2023, piloting his Top Alcohol Dragster to a second place finish in the NHRA.
It’s also totally worth pointing out that Stewart just notched himself an NHRA National Championship as a team owner—since Matt Hagan won Funny Car this year.
While Pruett had a strong season, including a final round appearance in Pomona last month, she’s stepping out of the cockpit to focus on family—though Pruett does reveal that she’ll compete at the 2024 World Series Of Pro Mod race next March.
After that, Pruett will stay with the Tony Stewart Racing Team and serve as a Mopar brand ambassador. And Pruett stresses that this move is a temporary one—she fully expects to be back in the driver’s seat some day.
All told, this news is yet another reason that we can’t wait until the 2024 NHRA season begins March 7 at the NHRA Gatornationals in Florida.