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Tony Stewart Going Full-Time Top Fuel Racing in NHRA as Leah Pruett Steps Aside to Start Family

Leah Pruett, who has competed in 27 consecutive seasons in NHRA competition and finished a career-best third in the NHRA Top Fuel championship standings in 2023, will be stepping away from the drag strip in 2024 as she focuses on starting a family with her husband Tony Stewart.

“Drag racing has been an important part of my life for over three quarters of my life,” Pruett said in a team press release. “27 years of racing in the NHRA has molded who I am and I am extremely grateful for the life it has given me. Through a long series of thought processes and a decision that did not happen overnight, I feel that stepping out of the seat right now is what’s best for myself and Tony to start a family.”

Stewart, a NASCAR Hall of Fame driver, will move into Pruett’s Top Fuel dragster seat at Tony Stewart Racing on behalf of Pruett. Stewart competed in the full 2023 NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster division for McPhillips Racing.

A 12-time NHRA Top Fuel event winner, Pruett called the decision to step away from drag racing in 2024 a very difficult one.

“This has been one of the most difficult decisions to make because of what we have collectively created at TSR; a highly-successful program and enjoyable operation,” Pruett said. “I had the best finish of my entire career. To step away from that can be a challenging move, but I had already made up my mind long before we were deep in the championship hunt. I’m excited about how competitive this team is, developed through the leadership of Neal Strausbaugh and Mike Domagala, and to be able to have Tony compete in a very safe, vetted, and well-performing car with an established team makes my heart happy.”

Stewart, who has gained a reputation over the years of being willing to drive anything on wheels, is proud of his wife’s decision, and is excited for 2024 on and off the track.

“I am very proud of my wife,” Stewart said. “To make a decision like this has got to be extremely hard. I don’t think from a male’s perspective that we can fully grasp it. To be a competitive, professional race car driver and have to make the decision to take yourself out of the seat to start a family is not a position most males would want to be put in. We had discussed starting a family and this was her decision. In those discussions, we came to the conclusion that the timing was up to her. I was very supportive as to whether she wanted to do it now or years from now. I’m very humbled that Leah and Neal felt I was the driver to fill in for her. I feel honored that I can do that for my wife and this team.”

While Pruett will not be racing in 2024, she will remain involved with Tony Stewart Racing in various aspects of the team in 2024, including assisting with technical projects.

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