NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Tony Stewart has driven just about every car on four wheels. While he no longer drives full time in NASCAR, he is part owner of Stewart-Haas Racing.
Recently NASCAR officials angered Stewart after two of his drivers received significant penalties two weeks in a row in separate events. At the time, Stewart said that he needed to find a new hobby.
Since meeting his wife Leah, who is an NHRA drag racer; Stewart has taken an interest in drag racing, even owning a team. Perhaps Stewart has found that new hobby and will be making his debut on the drag strip this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at the NHRA Nevada Nationals driving a Top Alcohol dragster for McPhillips Racing.
Speaking on his upcoming debut Stewart said, “I’m excited and nervous at the same time. It’s definitely going to be a big learning curve, and to do it at a national event right out of the gate adds to the challenge. But it’s something I’ve really been wanting to do and I’ve been working toward this moment. I’m not taking it lightly. It’s a serious business and I’m going to be as prepared as possible when I get to Las Vegas.”
While Smoke (Stewart) has a Top Fuel drag racing license he felt Top Alcohol was a good place to start saying, “I’ve been a rookie in a lot of different cars over the course of my career. That part won’t be new, but the drag racing side is so different from anything I’ve driven in the past. It’s all about procedures and knowing the routine and doing it the same every time. In all the other forms of racing, you blow a corner and you fix it and do better the next lap. There is no next lap if you screw up in these cars. You have to do it the same every time for the team to be able to tune the car the right way, and you have to do your job. You have to cut good lights and stay in the groove.”
He added, “there are a lot of things people don’t think about just by watching on television. I’ve learned a lot from our teams this year. I’m sure it will be sensory overload, but you have to start somewhere.”
Racing nearly his entire life, Smoke is the only driver to ever win championships as a NASCAR, IndyCar, open wheel Midget, Sprint car, and Silver Crown cars. A three time NASCAR Cup Series champion, one of those was achieved as an owner/driver with Stewart-Haas Racing. Next year NASCAR will celebrate 75 years of racing and in that time only 16 drivers have won multiple championships and only nine of them, including Smoke, have won at least three.
Over the course of his racing career Smoke has won numerous races and championships which has earned hi, inductions into the NASCAR, the National Motorsports Press Association, the Motorsports, the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame (2019), the Texas Motorsports, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the USAC, and the National Midget Racing Halls of Fame.