Tony Stewart going full-time NHRA racing as Leah Pruett steps aside to start family

tony stewart

Tony Stewart and wife Leah Pruett have decided to start a family.

While news in and of itself, that decision has created some additional news as well, as Pruett will step aside from the Tony Stewart Nitro Top Fuel dragster team for the 2024 season to pursue that goal. Taking her place for a full-time NHRA Top Fuel season is none other than Stewart himself.

Pruett, 35, has competed in 27 consecutive NHRA seasons with a career-best third-place championship run this past year. She has driven for Stewart since 2021, when the NASCAR and IndyCar legend started his own Dodge based team, following an introduction and relationship that began in 2019.

Stewart has taken to drag racing so much over the past four years that he started his own team, started to race within the Top Alcohol division, and will now race one of the premier divisions while intending to start a family.

“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.”

Pruett is a 12-time Top Fuel winner and called the decision a very challenging 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 garnered a reputation over the past three decades for racing anything is excited for the chance to compete at the highest level, but more proud of his wife for the decision she has made for herself and their future family.

“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.”

Matt Weaver is a Motorsports Insider for Sportsnaut. Follow him on Twitter.

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