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Tony Stewart Admits Being the Weakest Link of His NHRA Top Fuel Outfit

Published 03/08/2024, 9:36 AM EST

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Tony Stewart is one of the few race car drivers who has managed a successful racing career away from NASCAR racing. He has practically won everything there is to win in the American motorsports scene. But it seems like he is edgy about his next adventure in the NHRA Top Fuel 2024 season.

The 52-year-old did not undertake this challenge himself. After deciding to start a family, Leah, his wife, passed the team’s baton into his husband’s hand. While Stewart sure has been able to conquer every challenge he has faced so far, he is just not feeling confident enough about this big switch to Top Fuel drag racing.

Tony Stewart explains the difficulties of adjusting to an 11,000-horsepower dragster

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Leah Pruett, for a long time, led the charge for Tony Stewart Racing in the premier division of drag racing, Top Fuel. She has a total of 12 wins to her name and finished the last season with career-best points. So, needless to say, Stewart will have to keep up with his wife’s streak or at least try to deliver positive results in h

But why exactly is Stewart feeling the nerves ahead of the big season, given that he has his fair share of drag racing experience? Speaking in an interview with Athletic, he explained, “As simple as it sounds, driving a car in 320 less feet and going over 50 miles an hour faster is a huge adjustment. Just getting your brain to process how fast information is happening through the run is half the battle.

This is another step up, obviously, but having that experience last year will give us a little bit of confidence knowing that yeah, we’re not expected to know it all right out of the bat. Nobody does that when stepping into one of these, because there just isn’t anything else to prepare you for being in a Top Fuel car.” he went on to add.

It’s not the expectation of producing results that worries the NASCAR Cup Series champion. But the fact that he has a limited amount of seat time in the dragster has allowed doubt to creep into his mind.

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Stewart’s best ally going into Top Fuel racing is his Top Alcohol racing experience

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Stewart last year bagged two wins in the top alcohol class at the NHRA events. He even came close to winning the championship but had to settle for second place behind the winner, Julie Nataas. However, this experience will come in handy to tackle the unknowns of Top Fuel drag racing this season.

The hardest part is in drag racing, on a good day for a team, you can make four runs. So it’s really hard to get the seat time and the experience you need without a lot of days at the racetrack. Running the (Top) Alcohol car last year will be a big asset toward what we’re doing this year. It’s the closest thing you can get to a Top Fuel car.” Stewart said.

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Stewart believes he has a lot to learn to excel in the Top Fuel division. “I wish I had more confidence at this point, but it’s hard to do that when we haven’t been in (the seat). I’ve already made 20 runs total in a Top Fuel car (before preseason testing recently), but it’s been spread out over three years now. So I definitely have a lot to learn.”

Read More: NASCAR Insider Breaks Down the Reality of Stewart Haas Racing Leaving Ford for Honda’s Imminent Arrival

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Written by:

Chintan Devgania

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Chintan Mahesh Devgania is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. As someone who likes to dive deep into the sport, he often takes up less explored topics to eventually see them make their way into top stories. His report on Toyota’s young recruit, Jade Avedisian, sharing her thoughts on Late Model Racing, was an example of that.
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Edited by:

Shreya Singh