Championship-winning racecar driver Tony Stewart is joining the NHRA in 2022. His eponymous team, Tony Stewart Racing (TSR), will field two full-time entries — one in Top Fuel for nine-time event winner Leah Pruett and one in Funny Car for 39-time event winner Matt Hagan.
After more than four decades of racing around in circles, Tony Stewart will be on a more straight and narrow path next year, albeit one traveling at more than 300 mph. The manufacturer and the team’s technical alliance associate, along with corporate partners, will be announced at a later date.
“When I retired from full-time driving, I said it wasn’t the end, but the beginning of a new chapter. This is proof of that,” said Stewart, who also co-owns Stewart-Haas Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series with machine tool magnate Gene Haas. “I appreciate all forms of racing, and I’ve always been intrigued about drag racing and NHRA, in particular. Back in 2009, when Tony Schumacher and I were both representing the U.S. Army, I got to hang out with him and Don Schumacher at the U.S. Nationals. Tony ended up winning, and after taking it all in, I was hooked. But it wasn’t until I met Leah and started going to races regularly, where I saw the strategy and the preparation firsthand, that I truly understood it.”
Stewart has been a regular at NHRA events since last year when he and Pruett began dating. They are now engaged, with the couple set to be married in November after the season finale in Pomona.
“Beginning with Don Schumacher, I’ve probably annoyed everyone in the paddock with all the questions I’ve asked, but the more I learned about drag racing, the less I wanted to just be a spectator,” Stewart said. “I want to be an integral part of it. And I don’t do things halfway. I go all in. But I’m smart enough to know that I don’t need to be a rookie owner and a rookie driver, so I made sure to get two of the best NHRA drivers in Leah and Matt. I’m going to lean on their experience so we can hit the ground running in 2022.”
TSR was formed in November 2000. Since its inaugural season in 2001, TSR has earned 27 owner championships — 14 in USAC, nine in the World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series, and four in the All Star Circuit of Champions TQ Midgets. TSR will continue its sprint car program, which is headlined by 10-time WoO champion Donny Schatz. TSR’s NHRA and sprint car entries will operate out of its existing 25,000-square-foot facility in Brownsburg, IN.
TSR will make its NHRA debut during the 2022 season opener on Feb. 17-20 at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.