Three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart is expected to announce Thursday that he will become a team owner in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series with his fiancée Leah Pruett as a Top Fuel driver.

A press conference is scheduled Thursday morning at ZMax Dragway in Concord, North Carolina, with NHRA President Glen Cromwell also slated to attend.

Pruett, currently sixth in the NHRA Top Fuel points driving for Don Schumacher Racing, was coy when asked about her future plans during a Tuesday Zoom call to promote this weekend’s NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.

“I can’t say what the future holds. I know as silly season comes to an end, all the teams will be able to announce re-ups, renewals and things like that as things get closer,” she said. “Right now, it’s just wrapping up our DSR car with the Sparkling Ice Spike (sponsorship). We’ve got big things coming up for Dodge the last two races. That’s what we’re focused on.”

Stewart, a former IndyCar champion and a 2020 inductee into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, is the co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing in the Cup Series with drivers Kevin Harvick, Cole Custer, Aric Almirola and Chase Briscoe. His team has two championships with Stewart as driver in 2011 and Harvick in 2014.

They also field the No. 98 Ford in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for Riley Herbst. Stewart has 14 USAC championships and nine World of Outlaws sprint car championships as the owner of Tony Stewart Racing.

His portfolio also includes the Ollie’s All-Star Circuit of Champions and the owner of Eldora (Ohio) Speedway. He is the co-founder of the Superstar SRX Series and its first champion in 2021.

Stewart’s interest in drag racing coincides with his relationship with Pruett. She accompanied Stewart at the Frank Hawley School of Drag Racing in December where he made runs in Super Comp and Top Alcohol cars. He drove Pruett’s car at a private test at Las Vegas in April.

The new Stewart team is expected to field cars in both the Top Fuel and Funny Car classes with another major drag racing star expected to be announced as driver in the near future.

LONESOME PINE RACEWAY

Royce Peters served as crew chief for grandson Brayden Goddard during his rookie campaign at Kingsport Speedway. On Saturday night, the roles were reversed and Peters drove his No. 42 Chevrolet to the win in the Mod Street feature at Lonesome Pine Raceway.

Jarrod Cooper was second and Dalton Thomas finished third.

Johnson City driver Brandon Sutherland drove his No. 25 to a win in a strong 20-car field of Pure 4 cars. Kingsport’s John Ketron was second with Chris Neeley third. Morristown driver Lance Gatlin was the Limited Late Model winner, finishing a half-second ahead of Joey Sykes. Brett Baer took third.

Doug Austin was the Pure Street winner, ahead of Ricky Payne and his brother Rob Austin. Brandon Brendle captured the Mod 4 victory with Chris Amburgey and Billy Duty second and third. Danny Trent won the Baby Grand race.

LARSON AT BULLS GAP?

Volunteer Speedway hosts the Castrol FloRacing Night in America Super Late Model race on Wednesday, Oct. 20. Dirt stars on the tentative entry list include defending World of Outlaws late model champion Brandon Sheppard, defending Lucas Oil Late Model champion Jimmy Owens, Bristol winner Jonathan Davenport, Bobby Pierce and Mike Marler.

Local racers Jensen Ford from Johnson City and Vic “The Thrill” Hill from Morristown are also on the list. So is current NASCAR points leader Kyle Larson, who could be making his first-ever start at the Bulls Gap track.

TOUR OF DESTRUCTION

The most popular event at Kingsport Speedway takes place Saturday night with the Tour of Destruction described as racing meets demolition derby.

There are a variety of races, including a chain race, flag-pole race and a reverse race. The event also features Monster Trucks, a demolition derby and a school bus race.

Gates open at 4 p.m. with racing to begin at 7.

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Jeff Birchfield is a sports writer for the Johnson City Press with a lifelong passion for motorsports. The father of two attended ETSU and served in the Tennessee Army National Guard.

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