News & Multimedia

Stewart Seeks Third Title at Hometown 'Sacred Ground'

Tony Stewart freely admits he was one of the purists who didn’t think much of NASCAR’s invasion of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1994 for the inaugural Brickyard 400.

For a Hoosier who worshipped the 2.5-mile oval and was raised on open-wheel racing, only one kind of race at Indy would do.

“I was one of them that thought it was a crime, initially,” the Columbus, Ind., native said. “I’m a purist. It’s always been sacred ground to me. I remember when they did the tire test there and there was so much excitement after that, and that really didn’t even get me to switch sides.”

He was racing in Illinois and didn’t see the first Brickyard until later that day on replay, but once he did -- and heard from fellow racers that stock cars crossing the yard of bricks was plenty cool -- he was sold.

“It was the month of May historically, and all of a sudden it was the month of May and (July) now, and you had the same historic racetrack and now you had two events instead of one,” Stewart said.

Stewart has had his share of May appearances in the Indianapolis 500, highlighted by a fifth-place finish in 1997 and a sixth in 2001 when he did double-duty at Indy and NASCAR’s 600-miler in Charlotte.

He has put his name in the history books for his Brickyard performances. “Smoke” has two wins, in 2005 and 2007, 11 top-10 finishes including each of the last five years, and he’s a perfect 2,401-for-2,401 in laps completed.

“It’s a big deal,” Stewart said on a teleconference in advance of the 21st annual Crown Royal Presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Powered by BigMachineRecords.com. “When you grow up 45 minutes from Indy … that is sacred ground to me. Always has been, always will be.”

So, will this season bring a third Indy win? This season’s Sprint Cup campaign so far would suggest not, as Stewart is 19th in points in his Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet with no wins and just two top 5s.

On the other hand, Stewart is notorious for picking up steam midway through a season, and in a tire test last month at IMS his car was fast before a tire failure led to a crash. And he gained a big measure of confidence last weekend in a sprint car race.

At Tri-City Motor Speedway in Auburn, Michigan, Stewart won in a winged sprint car one year after an accident in the same type of car left him with two broken leg bones and a long rehabilitation.

“It was a confidence boost for me,” said Stewart, 43. “Dealing with when you haven’t won, and you haven’t necessarily been a contender to be in the top two or three each week and having those opportunities to win races this year, you start questioning what it is in the equation that you’re missing.

“We’re all finicky when it comes to running bad and you sit there and start questioning if you’re doing something wrong or if you’re not adapting to the car.”

Stewart knows he’s still got it. Next is finding out whether he’ll have it at his hometown track, where he relishes the chance to become a three-time Indy winner.

“It’s a big deal. It’s always big when you come home. It’s always big when you have friends and family that don’t get the opportunity to go see you race anywhere else.
 

Show More Show Less
Now Viewing
Stewart Seeks Third Title at Hometown 'Sacred Ground'
 
Stewart Seeks Third Title at Hometown 'Sacred Ground'
Tony Stewart freely admits he was one of the purists who didn’t think much of NASCAR’s invasion of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1994 for the inaugural Brickyard 400.
Read More
Related Media
Jimmie Johnson
 
Johnson Clinches Seventh NASCAR Championship at Homestead
Jimmie Johnson earned the new nickname "Seven-Time" after winning the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, which also earned him the 2016 Sprint Cup Series championship -- the seventh of his career. This came after a rough start to the day when Johnson was forced to start from the rear after unapproved adjustments to his car before the race.
Read More
Tony Stewart
 
Relive Tony Stewart's Victories at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Going into his final race this weekend at Homestead, Tony Stewart owns 49 NASCAR Sprint Cup wins. Among the most cherished to the Columbus, Indiana, native are – of course -- his two Brickyard 400 wins, in 2005 and 2007.
Read More
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
 
IMS End-of-Season Sale Set for Nov. 19
Fans can take advantage of the lowest prices of the season on their favorite Race Day apparel, souvenirs, diecasts and more on from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Media Center inside the famed oval. Discounted merchandise from the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, 100th Running of the Indy 500, Brickyard 400, Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational and the Red Bull Air Race will be included, with much more.
Read More
Veterans Day
 
Special Veterans Day Note from IMS President Doug Boles
Happy Veterans Day to all Veterans. On behalf of IMS fans everywhere, thank you for your service.
Read More
Jimmie Johnson
 
Johnson Scores Ninth Martinsville Win, Advances to Championship 4
Winless at the .526-mile short track since the spring race of 2013, Jimmie Johnson ended his “drought” on Sunday with a victory in the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 and earned a berth in the Championship 4 race, set for Nov. 20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Read More
Items 1 - 5 of 712
Reserve one of our hospitality suites for your next event!
To start planning your event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway please fill out our Information Request Form or contact Laura Wyamn at (317) 492-8557 or email at lwyman@brickyard.com.
Latest Tweets
RT @jdouglas4: Really great to see so many here @IMS for Lights at the Brickyard! Last car just left! Here is the view from where I worked…
about 37 minutes ago