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Tony Stewart’s First NHRA Season Comes to a Disheartening End as Wife Leah Pruett Adds to Worsening Misery

Published 11/12/2023, 10:25 PM EST

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Tony Stewart‘s first-ever full-time NHRA season started with a blast but ended on a sour note. Scantily failing to establish his dominance, the 52-year-old fell just 0.03 seconds short in round 2 of the finals at Pomona Dragstrip. Additionally, his wife and NHRA Top Fuel Dragster for Tony Stewart Racing, Leah Pruett, qualified as one of the five drivers with a realistic shot at the NHRA title. Yet, Pruett, who started her drag race journey at The Fairplex, was dealt a tough hand.

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Pruett was third in the standings, 34 points behind leader and four-time champ Steve Torrence. That meant Tony Stewart still had another Trump card rolled up his sleeves with Leah Pruett, who was competing in the Nitro Sweep series. Sadly, even that didn’t work out well for Tony Stewart Racing in the end.

A sorry season for Tony Stewart and Leah Pruett


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Leah Pruett made her NHRA professional debut in 2009, but not in the Top Fuel category. It was in a funny car. However, her run was anything but funny. Her DragStar-Tigerflow Chevy Monte Carlo blew up right on the starting line. Nevertheless, she returned to Pomona with the sole motive of winning the finals as an experienced Top Fuel driver.

Going onto Pomona, she was third in the points standings and needed to frog-jump 51-time winner Doug Kalitta. And she gave it her all. Pruett has been working day in and day out with crew chiefs Neal Strausbaugh and Mike Domagala to make sure her golden dream of winning her first Top Fuel championship doesn’t shatter. Needless to say, she was confident.


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She told, “Going to Pomona, our team will look over all of the combinations we have had throughout the year. In the countdown, our car has been very consistent and has top performance. We have been filling in our playbook so we can be our best at Pomona.”

But, she too fell short. And this time, the margin was of a minimal 0.047 seconds. All in all, much to Stewart’s disappointment, the six-time NHRA TOP Fuel season points runner-up, Kalitta, caught the championship bouquet. While Kalitta finished at 3.673 ET at 334.98 mph, Pruett finished at 3.720 ET at 326.16 mph. Perhaps the only thing that can console her is the fact that she and her Dodge crew gave it their all.

Tony Stewart’s NHRA Quest Reaches New Heights With Massive 2.134 Dominance

On a separate note, after having won his first-ever NHRA national event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway back in April, Stewart had expected that momentum to snowball into something bigger, perhaps the championship. And it wouldn’t be wrong to say that he was on the right track.

Tony Stewart’s 2023 redemption code meets its saddening expiry

It hasn’t been a great season for the three-time Cup Series champion. The one SHR car that was able to make it into the NASCAR playoffs got ousted right in the first round. The driver of his #10 Ford Mustang, Aric Almirola, has already announced his retirement. And so has Stewart’s prized driver, Kevin Harvick. Nevertheless, Stewart had found solace in Cole Custer’s championship win at Phoenix Raceway. But that happiness was quite short-lived.


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Stewart defeated Madison Payne in round 1, putting up a blazing fast speed of 276.13 mph, obliterating Payne’s 129.54 mph run. He was all set to face Shawn Cowie following the sunset.


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While Cowie flaunted a dash featuring a speed of 280.25 mph in 5.176 seconds, Tony Stewart was able to accelerate up to 276.46 mph in 5.206 seconds. Facing defeats on multiple fronts, all they can do is reset, pull their socks up, and prepare for 2024.

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Written by:

Soumyadeep Saha


One take at a time

It is the unpredictability of the sport that probably intrigues me the most. There was a time when I knew very little about NASCAR. But after I watched the 2011 Ford 400 where Tony Stewart defeated Carl Edwards in a tie-breaker, there has been no going back for me.
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Edited by:

Shivali Nathta