'Smoke' Can Drive Anything

Tony Stewart watches early test passes

(CONCORD, NC – MAY 17, 2021 – RIS) Tony Stewart, three-time NASCAR Cup champion, can drive pretty much anything he straps into. He has won sprint car races, midgets, Indy cars, and come very close to winning the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona in prototype racers. Tony Stewart (Smoke) recently attended a Doug Hawley drag racing school, then, if reports are accurate, made enough passes to get his Top Alcohol license and now has made enough Top Fuel passes for a Top Fuel license, even if he only keeps driving in test sessions.

Sometimes, the day after an NHRA race at zMAX is a day of testing and license tests

This afternoon at zMAX Dragway, Stewart brought out 'his' Top Fuel car, wrapped in the classic orange and black AJ Foyt colors, but with no sponsors, no numbers, just plain black and orange. Prepared by the Don Schumacher crew who handle Leah Pritchett's racer.

Tony started the day with a solid run of 3.868 seconds at 317.05 mph, easily enough to have qualified in 13th place for the most recent NHRA Top Fuel race at zMAX.

Tony's second run was quicker at 3.812 seconds, matching No. 10 qualifier Salinas last weekend. The trap speed of 318.92 edged up slightly, in spite of the weather warming as the day went on.

His final pass, a little after 5:00 this afternoon, was the quickest of the day, at 3.760 seconds and 322.27 mph matched No, 5 qualifier Billy Torrence over the weekend and would have been the fifth fastest trap speed of qualifying.

Yes, Tony Stewart really CAN drive anything.

Watching some of the action was a collection of various drivers from other series, most notably (that we noted, there may well have been others) Kyle Larson. We asked Larson if he would be trying a Top Fuel car and his laughing reply was "not any time soon," with the implication that he meant 'no way' but was leaving his options open. Several NASCAR garage officials were present, as were engineers and mechanics from a few other teams.

John Davison

Long-time RIS staffer, beginning in the mid-80s. Charlotte, NC area local contact.

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Volume 2021, Issue 5, Posted 9:47 PM, 05.17.2021