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When we talk about American motorsport icons, no conversation is complete without the mention of Tony Stewart. From stock cars and sprint cars to dirt cars and USAC cars, the co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing has a racing portfolio unlike any other. With that being said, there was one category calling Tony Stewart’s name for decades: the NHRA series.

Fast forward to 2024, and Tony Stewart has embarked on a rookie journey into the world of Top Fuel, transitioning from the alcohol class. And now that ‘Smoke’ has gotten a taste of the fast-paced drag-racing action, he believes there’s a certain itch that NASCAR doesn’t scratch.

Tony Stewart is relishing every second of his drag-racing adventure!

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When Tony Stewart stepped foot into the world of the NHRA, most fans felt it may have come a little too late. However, Smoke is enjoying every second of his time as Leah Pruett’s stand-in. During the Winternationals event on Friday, Stewart qualified in ninth place with a time of 4.839 seconds. A solid result for a ‘rookie’. With that said, it isn’t just the 1000-hp behemoth that has made Stewart fall in love with the series.

“There is so much that is great about this sport” Speaking to the media at the In-N-Out Pomona Drag Strip, Stewart was quoted by The Sun. He went over the aspects that work in favor of the NHRA over NASCAR. He shared, “The camaraderie among the competitors and just how fan-friendly it is, you come to one NHRA event, you are coming back. You can walk around the pits, talk to the drivers, watch the crews work on the cars. You can’t do that in NASCAR or any other form of racing.”

Tony Stewart is quickly gaining traction as one of the fan favorites in the Top Fuel class this year. Fans have been reportedly swarming Stewart at events like the one at Gainesville, and the SHR owner couldn’t be more delighted. For quite some time, NASCAR fans have been vocal about the distance being created between them and the drivers. Not only does this give the NHRA’s open environment a breath of fresh air, but Stewart gets to connect with optimistic drag-racing fans while SHR’s Cup fate hangs in the balance.

Additionally, Tony Stewart is quickly proving to be a valuable asset for the NHRA. In the words of his Top Fuel driver and four-time Funny Car champion, Matt Hagan, he is quite the golden goose for the world of drag racing. Hagan was quoted by The Sun: “The cross-promotion that he brings, the sponsors that he brings… It’s filtering a lot of money, a lot of time, a lot of people, and a lot of energy just for him being here. If the NHRA is smart, they’ll ride his coattails as long as they can. He needs to be the new John Force of the NHRA.”

READ MORE: “I Was Depressed” 60-YO NASCAR Veteran Comes Clean on Mental Troubles After Repeated Daytona 500 Failure

While it’s safe to say Tony Stewart is having the time of his life in the Top Fuel dragster, the physical toll it takes on the body is surprisingly similar to a 500-mile Cup race.

Smoke believes top-fuel racing is just as exhausting as the Daytona 500

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It’s no secret that motorsports require great physical strength and endurance. After all, it isn’t just the G-forces that affect a driver. Adrenaline plays a major role in how exhausting a race can be, with Tony Stewart explaining why a few 4-second runs in the dragster can be as exhausting as running an entire 500-mile race.

“You know, I have learned a lot about adrenaline,” Stewart shared with The Sun. “If it comes in peaks and valleys, like it does in drag racing, it can be just as tiring as it is by driving a race for 3½ hours.” While Tony Stewart believed that the rush in drag racing was far greater owing to the lightning-fast acceleration, the ebb and flow of adrenaline were as tiring as a consistent state of focus in a 500-mile race like the Daytona 500, which lasts anywhere between 3 and 4 hours.

Tony Stewart added, “There is a greater rush in drag racing because you’re going up to 330 miles per hour in four seconds or less. If you make four runs in a day, that’s only 16 seconds in a race car. But you are just as exhausted at the end of the day as you are after 3½ hours of driving a race car.” Considering Stewart’s age, it’s beyond remarkable that the SHR co-owner still has what it takes to put in solid times as a driver.

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READ MORE: Tony Stewart’s Mentee Pulls Sponsor From SHR to Power His Latest New Sprint Car Team

Needless to say, this is just the beginning of The Smoke’s Top Fuel career, and the community is right there with him!