After spending the better part of two decades as a driver at NASCAR’s top-level, Tony Stewart’s retirement has consisted of several motorsports-centric activities and endeavors, the latest of which will bring him back to full-time competition in 2023.
Stewart will contest the entirety of the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series schedule, piloting a Top Alcohol Dragster entry for McPhillips Racing.
“I am super excited about the season. It’s been a long winter, and I think what’s made it feel even longer is the fact that we’ve been working on putting this package together with the McPhillips family to expand on what we did at Las Vegas last year and get back in the seat,” Stewart said. “I want to keep learning about the sport and have the opportunity to go compete more this year with a team I really enjoy.”
Last season, in his Top Alcohol Dragster debut at The Strip at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the 51-year-old advanced to the finals, coming up just two-ten-thousandths of a second behind the event’s eventual winner Madison Payne for the overall victory.
“To be able to go to Vegas last year with the McPhillips family was really special,” Stewart continued. “Pops [Rich McPhillips] and Richie [McPhillips Jr.] are an unbelievable family to drive for. Everyone on the crew is a fun group of guys to race with. It’s nerve-wracking to try and do something different, but when you have a team like what the McPhillips Racing team has, it makes everything a lot easier.”
Since retiring from full-time competition after the 2016 NASCAR Cup Series season, Stewart has continued to operate Stewart-Haas Racing alongside team co-owner Gene Haas. In 2022, Stewart established Tony Stewart Racing (TSR), a brand-new team in the NHRA, which fields an entry in Top Fuel for Leah Pruett, and Funny Car for Matt Hagen.
“It’s hard to sit there and know what expectations we should have for the year,” Stewart said. “I think as long as I keep learning more and more as I go by trying to be more consistent with driving the car, keep it in the groove, trying to stay consistent on reaction times and improve reaction times, those are all goals for me. I want to keep learning and get better every weekend and every race we go to.”
Mobil 1, the world’s leading brand of synthetic motor oil, will join the three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion in his return to full-time racing, adorning his McPhillips Racing Top Alcohol Dragster.
“We’ve been there for Tony’s first championship as a NASCAR Cup Series team owner, his first time driving an F1 car, and his first time in an A/Fuel dragster,” said Rob Shearer, ExxonMobil Director Global Lubricants Marketing Services and Sponsorships. “When Tony said this is what he wanted to do next, we weren’t about to miss supporting him as he gets better acquainted with the water box this year. And each time one of our drivers takes the next step, so do our engineers, and Tony will be relying on our Mobil 1 Racing Nitro full synthetic racing oil all season long. It’s a technology that represents the next generation of Mobil 1 full synthetic motor oils that you can find on the shelf, but that journey typically begins right here on the track.”
Mobil 1 was part of the championship-winning effort for Tony Stewart and Stewart-Haas Racing in 2011 and has remained a partner of the organization ever since, serving as a primary sponsor for several drivers, including Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, and Aric Almirola.
“I’m really excited about having Mobil 1 back on board,” Stewart said. “They have been a great partner since I went to Stewart-Haas Racing. All the years of NASCAR Cup racing, sprint car racing, and now drag racing, they’ve been there with me the whole time. It’s great to have a partner like Mobil 1 that believes in everything we do and wants to be a part of it with us. That’s something that means a lot to me. They’re a long-term partner, and it’s relationships like that you value as a driver and team owner.”
In addition to the series’ 13-race schedule, Stewart will be competing in select events in the divisional series, starting with the Division 2 “Baby Gators,” March 1-5 at Gainesville Raceway.