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NASCAR champ Tony Stewart to debut as a dragster at LVMS

Tony Stewart will make his NHRA driving debut at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in this weekend’s Nevada Nationals.

The three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion is in his first year as an NHRA car owner. His drivers Leah Pruett in Top Fuel and Matt Hagan in Funny Car will be racing in this weekend’s event.

Stewart will drive a dragster for McPhillips Racing in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Top Alcohol class, considered a stepping stone to the premier Top Fuel division.

“I’m excited and nervous at the same time,” Stewart, 51, said in a statement. “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.”

The versatile racer, who also won the 1997 IndyCar championship, prepared for the Las Vegas run with two multi-day sessions at Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School and tests over the past two years in both a Top Alcohol dragster and a Top Fuel dragster. Now he hopes he is ready for the real thing.

“It’s something I’ve really been wanting to do and I’ve been working toward this moment,” Stewart said. “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.”

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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