By Briar Starr, NHRA Staff Writer
Adding to already his illustrious motorsports career, three-time former NASCAR Cup Series Champion Tony Stewart is poised to make his NHRA debut this weekend in a Top Alcohol dragster. Stewart broke the news nationally earlier this week by grabbing attention to the alcohol class, which is a developmental series and the next step up to the pro ranks, should a racer want to make that jump.
The Top Alcohol dragster will be fielded by McPhillips Racing and Stewart will have backing from Mobil 1 in their support.
“I’m excited and nervous at the same time,” Stewart said. “It’s definitely going to be a big learning curve, and to do it at a national event right out of the gate adds to the challenge. But it’s something I’ve really been wanting to do and I’ve been working toward this moment. I’m not taking it lightly. It’s a serious business and I’m going to be as prepared as possible when I get to Las Vegas.”
The Indiana native has made a couple of test runs over the past two years at Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School in Florida, which is required to gain a license in NHRA. Many numerous NHRA drivers past and present have tested and gained the required experience at Hawley’s drag racing school.
There will be 21 cars on the entry list this weekend, which means Stewart will have to make successful qualifying attempts that begin on Friday afternoon. However, despite the pressure of having to qualify his way in and with extra eyes watching, the Indiana native says his expectations are simple. Just go out there and gain reps.
“My expectations are just to gain experience and knowledge throughout the weekend,” Stewart said. “It will be nice to go from getting to drive the car to actually competing. Hopefully, we’ll have a good weekend and I’ll get to make a lot of passes.”
Fans wanting to catch Stewart’s NHRA debut can do so by subscribing to NHRA.TV. The Top Alcohol Dragster action kicks off Friday afternoon with the first round of qualifying at 2:15 p.m./ET. Q2 is scheduled for 8:45 p.m./ET, while the final round of qualifying is slated for Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m./ET. The first round of eliminations is set for later Saturday at 5:30 p.m./ET.