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Massive Crowd at Cleetus & Cars in Indy Takes in Top Alcohol Action, Tony Stewart Wins

In front of a near-capacity crowd on Saturday and Sunday at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, NHRA Top Alcohol Dragsters and Top Alcohol Funny Cars put on a memorable show as part of the fan-favorite Cleetus and Cars event last weekend in Indy.

The two-day Cleetus and Cars event, which was made popular by YouTube sensation Cleetus McFarland, made its third appearance at the historic venue, building on the crowds from the past two years and delivering non-stop excitement for the huge number of fans that saw the pair of NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Top Alcohol classes for the first time at the event.

They also witnessed another victory in the Top Alcohol Dragster ranks for Hall of Fame driver Tony Stewart, who earned his second win this season, this time by knocking off standout driver Jackie Fricke in the final round with a run of 5.257-seconds at 276.35 mph. It also gave the Indiana native and legendary driver his 10th win in competition at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, a run that started with nine open-wheel victories on the oval track.

He added an impressive performance on the dragstrip last weekend at the NHRA LODRS regional event, adding huge highlight for the crowd at Cleetus and Cars.

“To come here to the regional event in Indy and win is awesome,” Stewart said. “I’m really proud of this team and how much they have progressed. It was a rocky start to the year, but once they figured out the problems we were having, this thing has come to life. I feel like every run we make, we’re getting better and better and getting the window a little bigger of what makes the car happy.”

In Top Alcohol Funny Car, Brian Hough got past multi-time world champ Sean Bellemeur in the final round, going 5.484 at 263.56. Both classes featured stellar side-by-side racing and a surplus of top drivers, making the debut appearance of both classes at the special event at must-see attraction and adding to memorable atmosphere both days.

Other highlights of the action-packed event included the largest number of competitors in the burnout contest in the three-year history, exotic car drag racing and a full-field Ford Crown Victoria oval race. Included in the Indy 800 oval race was Drag and Drive star Tom Bailey, who also raced in the Street Car Shootout portion of the event. Bailey and seven other standouts will also be appearing next weekend in Chicago as part of the Drag and Drive exhibition at the Gerber Collision and Glass Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by PEAK Performance at Route 66 Raceway. In all, tickets were sold to fans from 40 different U.S. states, as well as Canada and Australia, with drivers from all four regions in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series competing at the event.

The facility was also packed with some of the most influential motorsports personalities in social media, featuring YouTube stars like Cleetus, Roman Atwood, Matt from Demolition Ranch, Kyle from BoostedBoiz, Brad DeBerti, Jackstand Jimmy, Kevin Smith with KSR Performance, JH Diesel, Brent from PFI Speed, Parker from Teeth & Turbos, and several others.

The massive success ensured Cleetus and Cars will return to Indianapolis in 2024 as part of a multi-year deal, with the date for next year’s event to be announced.

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“It was a tremendous weekend at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park. You could sense the incredible energy and atmosphere from the fans all weekend at Cleetus and Cars and they were treated to two spectacular days of action,” NHRA Vice President of Track Management and Operations Kasey Coler said. “It was great to spotlight our Top Alcohol Dragsters and Funny Cars as well and those performances at more than 275 mph really added another huge feature to the weekend.”

This story was originally published on May 11, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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