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Racin Today Stewart Pondering Return To IndyCar Cockpit

Time:2018-10-27 10:35Turbochargers information Click:

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Racin Today Stewart Pondering Return To IndyCar Cockpit

Tony Stewart thinks he has at least one more Indy 500 in him.

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

FORT WORTH, Texas – Retired three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart says he has no itch to return to the grind that is the Monster Energy Cup Series. But the Indy Racing League’s first “Poster Boy” believes there is still one more Indianapolis 500 run in him, perhaps for the race’s 104th edition in 2020.

Stewart has remained active barnstorming through a schedule of approximately 70 Sprint Car events this year after exiting NASCAR’s top series following the 2016 season. And while Stewart has made five Indy 500 starts, his most recent command to start his engine in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” was in 2001.

Still, Stewart indicated Wednesday during a charity-related visit to Texas Motor Speedway that he would have his choice among a list of top-shelf INDYCAR organizations should he commit to the Month of May at the famed 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“I actually talked to somebody from Rahal Letterman (Lanigan Racing) yesterday, so I don’t know,” Stewart said prior to hosting the 11th edition of the “Smoke Show” fantasy camp at TMS. “We’re talking about it and it’s not necessarily who we’d be doing it with. I mean we’ve talked to Andretti (Autosport); we’ve talked to obviously (Roger) Penske. I still got an open offer with him, which is pretty cool, and I think Chip (Ganassi) would want me to come back and do it again with him if we had the opportunity.”

Critical to any return to “The Brickyard,” Stewart said, would be competing in the August 2019 event around Pocono Raceway’s 2.5-mile “Tricky Triangle.”

“Pocono is what we talked about doing if we’re going to do this,” Stewart, 47, said after joking about his struggle to lose weight. “We’re going to at least run the Pocono race. That way when May (2020) came around, I’d at least be up to speed not trying to learn a whole race car again and a whole new system all over. I don’t want to do like Danica Patrick. I don’t want to be a sideshow with the 500.”

Patrick closed-out a racing career largely built around a fourth-place finish as a rookie in the 2005 Indy 500 with a crash and 30th-place finish 67 laps into the race’s 102nd edition on May 27. Patrick’s star-crossed fulltime NASCAR career ended after the 2017 season, ironically enough with Stewart-Haas Racing, the championship-winning organization Stewart co-owns with entrepreneur Gene Haas.

Patrick launched “Danicamania” via her Rookie of the Year result at IMS in ’05 with team-owner and 1986 Indy 500 champion Bobby Rahal before eventually transitioning to NASCAR. Similarly, Stewart was named Indy 500 Rookie of the Year in 1996 _ first year of Tony George’s IRL _ when he started on-pole and led 44 laps en route to finishing 24th in the 200-lapper.

That result in the then “oval-only” IRL marked Stewart as the circuit’s first marketable star in a bitter rivalry for open-wheel supremacy with the established Championship Auto Racing Teams. Asked to comment about his status as the IRL’s de facto “Poster Boy,” Stewart once famously remarked, “I’d rather have my face on a poster than on a milk carton.”

Stewart competed in four consecutive Indy 500s from 1996-1999, with a best finish of fifth in 1997 after starting second in the traditional 33-car field. Stewart led a career-best 64 laps in that event, only to finish 33rd and last because of an engine failure in 1998. He added top-10 finishes in 1999 (ninth) and 2001 (sixth), while compiling a total of 122 laps-led.

Stewart won the championship of the IRL’s 10-race 1996-97 season after scoring a single victory. He added two more wins during the 11-race 1998 IRL season. Stewart made three IRL starts at TMS, starting on-pole and finishing fifth in the inaugural True Value 500k night race in June 1997.

A native and resident of Columbus, Ind., Stewart has a genuine appreciation for the history and traditions of the facility located at the corner of Georgetown Road and 16th Street _ including the iconic Borg Warner Trophy featuring the likeness of each winner’s face.

“I mean, I would want to do it because I want to feel like I legitimately have a shot when I show up on the first day,” Stewart said. “I want to feel like I have a shot to win the race. Those guys (fulltime drivers) are so competitive in that series right now. You’re not just going to show up like you could 20 years ago, jump in a car and go out there and be up to speed with those guys. I mean they’re on top of their game so if, it happens, I mean we would definitely run at least one oval race before the 500.

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