Tony Stewart enters NHRA with fiancée Leah Pruett, Matt Hagan

CONCORD, N.C. — First got here the girl, then the quickest vehicles in racing.

Tony Stewart, who fell in love with NHRA whereas tagging together with fiancée Leah Pruett at her races the previous two seasons, can be an official a part of the game in 2022. The NASCAR Corridor of Fame driver will add two full-time NHRA entries to Tony Stewart Racing subsequent season — a Prime Gasoline entry for Pruett and a Humorous Automotive for Matt Hagan.

“It is a very distinctive alternative to regulate my very own future with my almost-husband in a sport I am completely enthusiastic about,” Pruett informed The Related Press. “That is an expertise and alternative that no person would cross up, and I really feel like I have been prepping my entire life for one thing like this — to use all of my skills to one thing grand in partnership and alongside anyone sharing the identical targets.”

Pruett and Hagan at the moment compete for Don Schumacher Racing, which on Wednesday introduced that eight-time Prime Gasoline champion Tony Schumacher will return to the crew subsequent yr in a full-time entry and be paired with Pruett’s present crew chief.

Stewart adopted along with his announcement Thursday and stated the brand new NHRA crew will function alongside his dash automotive groups in TSR’s present 25,000-square-foot facility in Brownsburg, Indiana. Stewart, co-owner of the NASCAR crew Stewart-Haas Racing, has received 27 proprietor championships in dash automotive racing.

“It wasn’t till I met Leah and began going to races often, the place I noticed the technique and the preparation firsthand, that I actually understood it,” Stewart informed the AP. “I’ve aggravated everybody within the paddock by asking so many questions, Don Schumacher included, and the extra I discovered about drag racing, I knew I did not wish to be a spectator. I needed to have a job and be all in.”

Pruett is in her twenty fifth NHRA season, entering into drag racing as an 8-year-old within the junior league. She received the 2010 NHRA Sizzling Rod Heritage Racing Sequence championship within the Nostalgia Humorous Automotive class and has spent the final eight years advancing via Prime Gasoline.

The 33-year-old has completed double obligation for a number of years, additionally competing within the NHRA Manufacturing facility Inventory Showdown. She received the 2018 title for Schumacher.

Hagan, who has pushed for Schumacher since 2009, is the three-time and reigning Humorous Automotive champion. He at the moment leads the Humorous Automotive standings with three races remaining within the season. He has 39 occasion victories.

“Don Schumacher has been an enormous chapter in my racing profession and we have received a complete lot of trophies and a number of championships collectively,” Hagan stated. “This subsequent chapter with Tony Stewart is one I am excited for. I am able to go racing. I am leaping into this new program with two toes and I am assured within the package deal we’re bringing into the 2022 season with TSR.”

As a result of TSR can be a Schumacher buyer, Stewart is anticipated to be a Dodge crew in NHRA however he didn’t make a producer announcement Thursday. Stewart-Haas Racing is a Ford crew in NASCAR and Ford additionally competes in NHRA and has helped Stewart study to drive a dragster since he turned infatuated with the racing collection.

Stewart and Pruett are set to be married subsequent month and the three-time NASCAR champion stated they’d forego a honeymoon to be prepared for the NHRA season opener Feb. 17-20 at Auto Membership Raceway in Pomona, California.

Neither expects any tensions to kind on this new chapter of their relationship, which Pruett clearly outlined: “I’m Tony Stewart Racing’s Prime Gasoline driver.”

“I feel it is going to be high-quality, I imply, it is not going to be flatline, there are going to be pulses in it as a result of we’ve hearts and so they beat,” Pruett stated. “However we all know this can work. Seeing issues which have occurred inside different collection and groups and tracks, I have been capable of perceive his thought strategy of fixing issues and developing with options.

“It made me be like, ‘That is anyone I’d like to work with, figuring out the place his head and coronary heart are.’ Shifting ahead and dealing collectively, this is not leaping into one thing unknown, I’ve seen how he works firsthand.”

Stewart stated he and Pruett have barely mentioned how one can handle their new working relationship.

“I’ve an understanding of what has to occur from the skilled facet, and the racing facet is the racing facet,” Stewart stated. “You do not convey the skilled stuff to the private facet, and vice versa. Leah is a brilliant girl, she’s a wise businesswoman, and he or she understands that there must be a distinction between proprietor and driver, and I do not suppose it creates an unhealthy setting for me to be the automotive proprietor and her the motive force.

“I do not really feel like that is going to place us relationship-wise in any kind of bind or predicament. We’ve no cause to not get alongside.” | Tony Stewart enters NHRA with fiancée Leah Pruett, Matt Hagan


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