Tony Stewart Moving to NHRA Top Fuel Class, Will Replace Wife Leah Pruett

Jackson Wheeler
4 Min Read


Tony Stewart vowed that he would never want to run against wife Leah Pruett in the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series Top Fuel class.

But he never said he wouldn’t race in the class instead of her.

Today, husband and wife Stewart and Pruett announced that Pruett will be stepping out of her Dodge/SRT Direct Connection top Fuel dragster “temporarily” to focus on starting a family.

Pruett is coming off her most successful Top Fuel season in 2023, where she came one round from winning the championhip. She lost to Doug Kalitta in a winner-take-all championship final run at Pomona in the last event of the season.

Stewart, meanwhile, raced a full season in NHRA Top Alcohol Class, where he finished second in the points as a rookie behind champion Julie Nataas.

Stewart’s Top Fuel debut will be at the NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville, Fla., the weekend of March 7-10.

“This decision did not happen overnight, and I feel that stepping out of the seat right now is what’s best for myself and Tony to start a family,” said Pruett, a 12-time NHRA Top Fuel national event winner. “This has been one of the most difficult decisions to make because of what we have collectively created at TSR, a highly successful program and enjoyable operation. I’m excited about how competitive this team is, and to be able to have Tony compete in a very safe, vetted, well-performing car with an established team.”

Stewart said he is “humbled” by the newest racing challenge.

“I am very proud of my wife,” said Stewart. “To make a decision like this must be extremely hard. We had discussed starting a family and this was her decision. I was very supportive as to whether she wanted to do it now or years from now. I’m very humbled that Leah and Neal felt I was the driver to fill in for her. I feel honored that I can do that for my wife and this team.

“I enjoyed my time in the Top Alcohol Dragster class. I absolutely loved racing with the McPhillips Racing family. But to have an opportunity like this, where you have your wife, who’s also a driver, and the crew chief feel I’m capable to come in and drive the car is very flattering. It’s an honor to be able to fill in for her until she’s ready to come back.”

Headshot of Mike Pryson

Mike Pryson covered auto racing for the Jackson (Mich.) Citizen Patriot and MLive Media Group from 1991 until joining Autoweek in 2011. He won several Michigan Associated Press and national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for auto racing coverage and was named the 2000 Michigan Auto Racing Fan Club’s Michigan Motorsports Writer of the Year. A Michigan native, Mike spent three years after college working in southwest Florida before realizing that the land of Disney and endless summer was no match for the challenge of freezing rain, potholes and long, cold winters in the Motor City.

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at Speedofdaily.com, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
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