Senior staff writer
The Indianapolis 500 tops Tony Stewart’s short list of races that he never won.
Retired from major league stock car and open wheel racing, Stewart was asked recently if there were any races missing from his winning resume.
“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed that I didn’t win a Daytona 500, a Southern 500 and most of all an Indy 500,” Stewart said before his final Sprint Cup race last month in Florida.
“In a perfect world I would have loved to be able to cross those three off the list. But at the same time I look at the big picture and it was pretty cool to just have the opportunity to go to those races.”
He emphasized that winning his first Brickyard 400 in 2005 is at the top of his list of all races that he won. No. 2 is his duel against Carl Edwards in 2011 at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the NASCAR crown.
“I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve done and the road that I’ve taken,” said Stewart of his path from midget cars and sprint cars to IndyCar and NASCAR competition.
It was a historic path that resulted in 49 Sprint Cup, 11 Xfinity, two NASCAR truck and three IndyCar wins. He raced in five Indianapolis 500s, starting on the pole as a rookie in 1996 and posting his best finish, fifth, in 1997.
In his retirement from Sprint Cup racing, the Hoosier native figures he will have even more of a motor sports industry impact than ever before.
He was on hand at the recent PRI (Performance Racing Industry) Motorsports Trade Show at the Indiana Convention Center with representatives of Chevrolet Performance as he talked about the high performance of the 2017 Camaro LT V6-1LE with a first-time track package. He later took part with a panel of drivers and discussed safety in sprint and midget car racing.
Stewart will have plenty to do in his retirement. He is co-team owner of Stewart-Haas Racing in NASCAR, owner of Eldora Speedway and a championship World of Outlaws winged sprint car team and founder of the Tony Stewart Foundation.
• NASCAR driver Kyle Larson talked about hopefully racing in the Indianapolis 500 and attempting The Double (the 500 and NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 on the same day) during a question-and-answer session with new IndyCar public relations guru Curt Cavin. Larson said those hopes are all in the hands of his NASCAR owner, Chip Ganassi, who owns a multiple-car IndyCar team.
• Greenwood native Jonathan Byrd II was an interested visitor. Byrd, son of the late Jonathan Byrd, is the president of the Indianapolis Speedrome, which is under the new ownership of Advance Auto Sales owner Kevin Garrigus. The Byrd and Garrigus families have a longtime history at the one-fifth mile oval, known nationally for its high-horsepower figure-8 competition. Garrigus announced a three-year agreement with Hoosier Tire as the track’s competition tire.
• Many legendary and active racing champions met with attendees, including Indy 500 winners Rick Mears and Bobby Unser, Jeff Gordon, Graham Rahal and NHRA’s Erica Enders-Stevens and Jeg Coughlin Jr.
• The World of Outlaws sprint car and late model series will conduct random drug tests on its drivers and suspend those using.