By David Morgan, Associate Editor
Tony Stewart hasn’t raced a NASCAR stock car since stepping away from the Cup Series full-time in 2016, but the allure of racing once more at his home track proved to be too much for the three-time champion and newly minted NASCAR Hall of Famer.
With the NASCAR Xfinity Series moving its July 4th race away from the storied oval and on to the 14-turn, 2.439-mile infield road course, Stewart announced on Wednesday that he will be returning to the driver’s seat for that race to run a Stewart-Haas Racing fielded Mustang.
“Everyone knows what Indy means to me, so I can’t think of a better place to race on Fourth of July weekend,” said Stewart. “It’s going to be cool making history by turning left and right in a stock car at the Brickyard, and the racing will be full of action and contact. Any time you can drive any racecar at the speedway is special, and you know I’m going for the win. The date is already circled on my calendar.”
Stewart has made 27 previous starts at Indianapolis across the Cup Series, NTT IndyCar Series, and the IROC Series, but the Indiana 250 will be his first Xfinity Series start at the track. Over the course of his career, Stewart has won at Indianapolis twice, scoring victories in the Brickyard 400 in 2005 and 2007.
There’s no place like home… and home is where I’ll be on the Fourth of July. pic.twitter.com/VPi07b9gqV
— Tony Stewart (@TonyStewart) March 4, 2020
While Stewart hasn’t raced a NASCAR stock car in more than three years, “Smoke” has been keeping busy elsewhere, racing sprint cars on the dirt at tracks across the country, but it was a demonstration run at the Circuit of the Americas last fall that got him to catch the stock car bug once more.
In that demo run, Stewart took Haas F1 drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen around the Austin, Texas track in a specially designed SHR-prepared Mustang stock car.
“It was a lot of fun for me to get in one of our Ford Mustangs and do that exhibition run at COTA,” Stewart said. “It kind of got my juices flowing to get back in a car again, and what better place to come back than Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“People sometimes say, ‘We miss seeing you behind the wheel,” and I’m like, ‘Well, you’ve just got to go to different places now’. I’m racing 100 times a year in a sprint car, but seeing some of these road-course races – especially the Roval at Charlotte – piqued my interest a bit, and running the stock car at COTA, it kind of fed my hunger. All of it has led me back to the place I’ve always called home – Indy.”
Further details about Stewart’s return to NASCAR, including car number, crew, and his sponsor will be announced at a later date.