Hallman: Tony Stewart, forty eight, satisfied with dust racing in Virginia
Three-time NASCAR Cup champion Tony Stewart says triumphing the Indianapolis 500 has been an entire life intention. However, the 1997 IndyCar Series champion said he’d entertain the concept of returning to Indy only if he had a danger to win, and he doesn’t trust that’s a realistic aim for a one-race-handiest attempt.
Stewart will race on a dust tune, Virginia Motor Speedway, in a Sprint vehicle series he owns and operates (deep breath here if you’re reading aloud), the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All-Star Circuit of Champions Presented by way of Mobil 1. Stewart and the Ollie’s Sprint vehicles will run the Thursday Night Thunder event on April eleven — two nights before the Saturday night Cup race at Richmond Raceway.
I requested Stewart, who turns 48 in May, if he could not forget walking the occasional Cup race, mainly in Virginia. Before he retired from Cup racing after the 2016 season, he had fulfillment at the country’s Cup tracks, winning three races at the tight Martinsville half-mile, three extra at the Richmond’s D-shaped ¾-mile. Stewart’s solution became that of the sensible businessman, the general public owner of the Stewart-Haas racing crew, an outfit with four full-time drivers — Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Eric Almirola, and Daniel Suarez.
NASCAR’s in line with-group limit is four cars, so, “We don’t have an extra car for me to power,” Stewart said. “I have lots to do as a team owner.” If now not Cup Series stock cars, what about returning to the open-wheel racers in the Indianapolis 500? In addition to his three Cup Series championships in 18 seasons, Stewart became the 1997 IndyCar Series champ — he’s the handiest driving force to win championships in both those racing disciplines. But he never fulfilled his boyhood dream of winning the Indy 500. Wouldn’t he like to provide that one extra shot? Stewart has had gives for Indy 500 rides from a few top IndyCar groups.
Last yr, he dangled the prospect he might be given such an offer. When driver Robert Wickens become severely injured in an IndyCar crash at Pocono Raceway in October, Stewart informed The Associated Press he became having second thoughts. “You watch Robert get harm,” he stated, “and you ask yourself if it’s truly really worth it.” Five months later, I requested Stewart if his hobby in the running at Indianapolis had heated up again. “No, now not true,” he said. “That’s been an inner conflict for me. Winning the Indy 500 has been a lifetime goal. When I think about going for walks some other one, my coronary heart says, ‘Yes.’ My head says, ‘Is this an amazing idea?’ I’m starting to permit my head to win the war.
He stated he’d entertain the concept of returning to Indy simplest if he had a threat to win, and he doesn’t consider that’s a sensible goal for a one-race-handiest attempt. “If you’re going to have a hazard to win the Indy 500, you’ve got to run numerous the races,” he stated. “I admire the race an excessive amount of, and I admire those drivers an excessive amount of, to expose up for one race.” For an instant, at the least, Sprint automobiles are the focal point for Stewart, the driving force. He stated that Virginia Motor Speedway, a nicely manicured dirt half of-mile, may be an excellent venue for the Ollie’s Series automobiles, careening into the corners with 410 cubic inches of engine strength and downforce courtesy of large overhead wings.
The $10,000-to-win, $1,000-to-begin feature event could have a robust 24-automobile starting lineup, Stewart promised. The race is the first-factor occasion of the collection’ 56-race season. Aside from five preseason races in Florida at some point of the run as much as the Daytona 500, the Thursday Night Thunder occasion is the best race in a Southern nation on Ollie’s 2019 timetable. The Sprint Car Series occasion is part of a statewide March-April timetable seen as Virginia’s annual version of Daytona’s Speedweeks.
Racing within the commonwealth will consist of bikes, pass-karts, many stock automobile divisions, sports activities, cars, vehicles, and dragsters. Besides the two Cup events three weekends aside, and their day-earlier than NASCAR aid races — Truck Series at Martinsville, Xfinity Series at Richmond — almost all the nation’s racing venues have their opening-night time occasions around spring’s arrival. South Boston Speedway opened last weekend. Southside Speedway’s 60th-anniversary season begins March 29. Dominion Raceway starts offevolved April 6. Langley Speedway opens April 11 opposite Virginia Motor Speedway with a 2 hundred-lap Late Model race.
One song returning to operation with an essential change after a yr off is the previous Lonesome Pine Speedway in Coeburn. The .375-mile track has been transformed from pavement to dirt and will reopen as Clay Valley Speedway Saturday. Richmond Raceway receives in at the laugh March 30. The Pro All-Star Series will carry its Super Late Model Series to the track for a 75-lap characteristic, alongside races for different divisions. It’s a veritable vehicle racing smorgasbord. Bon appétit, racing lovers. Randy Hallman, a veteran NASCAR author, is retired from the Richmond Times-Dispatch. His column appears weekly in the NASCAR Report. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RandyLHallman.