Tony Stewart back in broadcast booth for NHRA at Maple Grove

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Tony Stewart will return to the Fox broadcast booth for the elimination rounds Sunday of the NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.

The NASCAR Hall of Famer and first-year NHRA team owner will be in the booth for the second consecutive race and the NHRA's playoff opener, which goes head-to-head Sunday with the NFL. Stewart, who has called several NASCAR races for Fox over the last few years, worked the U.S. Nationals in his NHRA broadcasting debut.

"Drawing from his experience as a Hall of Fame driver, a team and track owner, and the relationships he has with some of the biggest names in the business, Tony has a unique perspective and can talk to nearly any aspect of racing with insight and credibility," said Frank Wilson, FOX Sports VP Event & Studio Production.

The U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis drew 840,000 viewers during Monday's elimination rounds with Stewart in the booth. It marked an increase of nearly 10% from last year's Fox broadcast of the race.

That leads into the playoff opener at Maple Grove Raceway, which also finishes off a string of eight of nine NHRA events appearing on Fox. NHRA Vice President of Broadcasting Steve Reintjes lauded Stewart's chemistry with analysts Brian Lohnes and Tony Pedregon.

"Tony Stewart's addition to the U.S. Nationals broadcast proved to be a great success. It was immediately clear that he possesses a next-level passion and knowledge of NHRA drag racing, which seamlessly translated during the broadcast," Reintjes said.

Stewart also will have two teams competing this weekend. His wife, Leah Pruett, competes in the Top Fuel division, and Matt Hagan competes in Funny Car for first-year NHRA team Tony Stewart Racing. Hagan, a three-time world champ, opens the Countdown to the Championship in third in the standings. Pruett, who won in Denver this year, is ranked seventh.