Drag Illustrated Issue 169, June/July 2021 - Page 80

not what drives our crew chiefs or our teams . You know what I mean ? People that work on these cars sign up to develop and tinker and try and be quicker and better than the next guy . So you have that whole element that you can ’ t take away .
I don ’ t think it would lie within the nitro category . Honestly , I think what we have in Factory Stock Showdown is really close . You even take it a notch down from that . If we really were just about the driver discipline , you go to the cars that are the same , which would be a street car , which would be a car off the lot . So whether it ’ s all Demons or all Redeyes , but something that comes down to your own input as a driver and tire pressures or minor adjustments .
Here ’ s a little difference , though . We ’ re not trying to get the retired drag racers back in or bring the superstars back in because with drag racing , you can race for forever . They ’ re here and they ’ re doing it now . So the fans that those legends had are still here because those legends are most likely still racing or are already involved in some capacity . STEWART : I don ’ t think there ’ s a need for it either . I mean you look at the Greek [ Chris Karamesines ]. That ’ s proof that you can still do it . It absolutely amazed me to watch him go down through there . And not just go down through there , he went down through there fast . PRUETT : Like NASCAR or stock car racing , there was a need for it . That ’ s what created it . I don ’ t feel like we are in need of something extracurricular to what we already have . I think it would be more about making small adjustments instead of big ones . STEWART : SRX was about bringing different drivers from different disciplines of motorsports together , whether it was NASCAR drivers , IndyCar drivers , sports car drivers , dirt drivers .
If you ’ re in the sport of drag racing , you ’ re in the sport of drag racing and that ’ s it . It ’ s not comparable to anything else . It ’ s been really cool the times that we had Cruz Pedregon and Ron Capps come and run the Prelude . Here ’ s guys that show the car control they have to drive a Funny Car and show why they have talent that they have . You don ’ t really have completely different formats of drag racing . So I agree it would be really hard to do an SRX version of it .
I went back and watched some of your YouTube videos . Tony , the ones of you going to Frank ’ s and getting in the Top Fuel car are some of the highest viewed videos on your page . It seems like people from both worlds are really interested in this . How has your fan base or competitors from your world responded to you getting into drag racing ? STEWART : The first question from drivers is always “ What was it like ?” Out of 20 people , 19 of them ask “ What was it like ? What ’ d it feel like ?” It doesn ’ t matter what they race , they all ask . We were at Eldora last week and dirt late model drivers : “ What was it like ?” The NASCAR guys : “ What ’ s it like ?” That ’ s the common response . When I went to the Indy 500 with AJ [ Foyt ], friends of mine in IndyCar : “ What was it like ?” They all just want to know because they know it ’ s so different than what we are all used to . They want to know what it ’ s like , how hard the cars accelerate , what the speed feels like at 300-plus miles an hour .
It ’ s the same questions I had when I first went . It was like , “ Really , what ’ s it like ?” And then you get there , slowly watch and ask more questions and then finally get an opportunity to do it .
I think everybody ’ s been genuinely interested in it and thinks it ’ s neat that I ’ ve done something
STEWART HAS DRIVEN JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING THAT TURNS LEFT ON FOUR WHEELS , BUT HE WAS ADMITTEDLY OUT OF HIS COMFORT ZONE IN THE COCKPIT OF A TOP FUEL DRAGSTER . WITH COACHING FROM PRUETT , HER TEAM , AND HAWLEY , STEWART HAS QUICKLY GOTTEN UP TO SPEED , THOUGH . different that ’ s not in my comfort zone , by any means . It ’ s way different being involved in drag racing . But like I said , when you have somebody you ’ re emotionally involved with , it ’ s in my nature to want to learn more about it and understand it and see it from her perspective .
On the fan side , it ’ s been really cool to see how our fans have responded . I know my fan base and my female fans , but I didn ’ t really know about her male fans . I was worried about what our fans might say about us dating . I thought my female fans are probably like , “ Oh man ,” and her male fans are probably like , “ Oh come on , this guy ?” But it ’ s been the opposite . Probably the coolest one was the first time that I read somebody ’ s comment in a post and they said , “ Wow , my favorite NASCAR driver and my favorite NHRA driver are together . That ’ s cool .” And I thought , Wow , I never even thought of it that way .
So that part ’ s been really cool , I think . People at the track and our fans are like , “ Wow , we ’ re happy for you guys ,” and “ We ’ re happy you ’ re together ,” and they ’ re diehard Leah Pruett fans or they ’ re diehard Tony Stewart fans , and now they love Leah or her fans like us . It ’ s really cool to see that and for us to be able to share our fans .
Leah , similar question for you . What have you heard and seen from your fans and your teammates and your crew guys about bringing Tony in ? He ’ s been so involved and so successful in other forms of motorsports . How excited are they now that he ’ s getting involved in drag racing ? PRUETT : I would say for those that have spent a lot of time with him , particularly my crew and crew chiefs were like , “ Holy crap , he asks a lot of questions .”
I would say the overwhelming remark , the question I get from people is , “ What ’ s he like ?” and “ Is he down to earth ?” Or after they ’ ve even met him , one sentence , one conversation or something , it ’ s “ I had no idea Tony was that normal .” He just continues to prove that he ’ s just another normal human being , which to me circles back to our relationship where we got to be normal human beings together and then throw everything else on it , so we have that foundation , but that ’ s what I ’ m asked .
And “ How does he like it ?” or “ Was he excited ?” Not only do I get that question , but the team does too . It ’ s been a little difficult to answer it because this guy doesn ’ t just outwardly show his excitement . He made his first full hit , a 3.86 . Then he went 322 mph at Charlotte . It wasn ’ t like what
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