Tony Stewart brings Smoke to drag racing

Stewart Smoke drag racing
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Tony Stewart has done just a little bit of everything there is to do in motorsports with the exception of drag racing. After a recent trip to the Frank Hawley School of Drag Racing, he rectified that deficiency.

Accompanied by NHRA Top Fuel racer and girlfriend Leah Pruett (who provided instruction), Stewart brought a little “Smoke” to the drag strip. A camera crew was on hand to document his introduction to straightline racing in a video posted on Stewart’s YouTube channel.

First Stewart needed to become familiar with the “Christmas tree” lighting system that starts each run down the drag strip, and he did so in a Super Comp car. From there, Stewart moved into one of the Hawley’s Alcohol Dragsters that was equipped with an automatic transmission.

“We use that setup to allow new drivers to learn the routine you would use to drive an A/Fuel [Dragster] or Top Fuel car, but they’re still plenty fast,” Hawley said at “We want them to see how it steers and handles and what you can and can’t do with it. Obviously, for someone like Tony who is used to seeing the world at 200 mph or faster, that wasn’t an issue.”

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Hawley is a two-time NHRA Funny Car world champion who has taught amateurs and pros how to navigate a dragster down the strip for three decades.

“He’s world-class at anything he’s ever done, so it didn’t surprise me that he had no problems,” Hawley added. “He was a great guy, easy to talk to, and very humble. What a neat guy.”

Stewart made a dozen runs in the two cars and reportedly earned a Top Dragster license. He has not announced any intention to race a dragster professionally, but drag racing fans will want to keep an eye out for “Smoke” at the racetrack.

Ryan Hunter-Reay hired as replacement for Conor Daly at Ed Carpenter Racing

Ryan Hunter-Reay Carpenter
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Ryan Hunter-Reay was named to replace Conor Daly in Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 20 Dallara-Chevrolet, starting in the NTT IndyCar Series event next week at Road America.

Hunter-Reay is the 2012 series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner. He finished 11th for Dreyer & Reinbold last month in the 107th Indy 500, his first start since the 2021 season finale. He drove full time for Andretti Autosport from 2010-21.

“We need to improve our competitiveness and I wanted to add a fresh perspective from a driver like Ryan who has a massive amount of experience and success as well as a reputation as a team leader. I am excited to welcome Ryan to the team,” team owner Ed Carpenter said in a team release. “We have worked together in the past as teammates and he tested for ECR at Barber Motorsports Park in October 2021, where he made an immediate impact as we were able to qualify one of our cars on the pole following that test. I am confident that his experience and technical abilities will be an asset to ECR as we move forward toward our goals as a team.”

Hunter-Reay has 18 IndyCar victories, most recently in 2018. He also is a winner in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, having been a part of winning entries in the 2020 Twelve Hours of Sebring and 2018 Petit Le Mans. Last year, he was an endurance driver for Cadillac Racing while being on standby for Chip Ganassi Racing.

He replaces Daly, whose departure was announced a day earlier in what the driver and team said was a mutual decision.

“I was surprised when I got the call from Ed,” Hunter-Reay said in a team release. “He described how frustrated he was that his team has not been able to realize its potential despite their efforts, investments, as well as technical and personnel changes over the past few years and asked for my help. Ed and I are very close friends and have been for a long time. I’ve worked with the team in the past and they are a very talented group with high expectations and a committed partner in BITNILE.COM.

“This will certainly be a challenge for me as well. It’s a tough situation jumping in a car in the middle of the season without any testing in what I believe to be the most competitive series in the world. Certainly, part of my motivation in saying ‘yes’ to Ed is the great challenge ahead. The last time I turned right driving an NTT IndyCar Series car was in October of 2021 with this team at Barber. However, I remain very confident in both my driving and technical abilities and believe by working with the talented people at ECR and Team Chevy, while representing BITNILE.COM, we will make progress. I am going to do everything I can do to help the team achieve its long-term objectives.”

Said Milton “Todd” Ault, the chairman of sponsor “It is great for to be aligned with an Indy 500 Winner and an NTT IndyCar Series champion. I have followed Ryan’s career for years and I am confident he will challenge the entire ECR team to perform at higher levels. I wish everyone luck at Road America.”