Tony “Smoke” Stewart’s racing itinerary in Virginia these next few weeks isn’t restrained to his function as the owner of one in all NASCAR’s greater a success Cup Series groups. Stewart will race on a dust song, Virginia Motor Speedway, in a Sprint automobile series he owns and operates (deep breath right here if you’re studying aloud), the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions Presented by Mobil 1. Stewart and the Ollie’s Sprint vehicles will run the Thursday Night Thunder occasion on April 11 — nights earlier than the Saturday night Cup race at Richmond Raceway. I requested Stewart, who turns forty-eight in May, if he might take into account going for walks the occasional Cup race, in particular in Virginia. Before he retired from Cup racing after the 2016 season, he had the achievement on the country’s two Cup tracks, triumphing 3 races on the tight Martinsville half-mile, 3 extra on the Richmond’s D-shaped ¾-mile. Stewart’s answer turned into that of the practical businessman, most people proprietor of the Stewart-Haas racing crew, an outfit with 4 complete-time drivers — Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Eric Almirola, and Daniel Suarez.
NASCAR’s in line with-group restriction is four motors, so, “We don’t have an extra automobile for me to drive,” Stewart said. “I have plenty to do as crew owner.” If now not Cup Series inventory automobiles, what about ago back to the open-wheel racers inside the Indianapolis 500? In addition to his 3 Cup Series championships in 18 seasons, Stewart became the 1997 IndyCar Series champ — he’s the simplest driving force to win championships in each those racing disciplines. But he in no way fulfilled his boyhood dream of prevailing the Indy 500. Wouldn’t he like to offer that one greater shot? Stewart has had gives for Indy 500 rides from some top IndyCar groups. Last yr, he dangled the possibility he might be given such a suggestion. When motive force Robert Wickens become seriously injured in an IndyCar crash at Pocono Raceway in October, Stewart advised The Associated Press he changed into having second thoughts. “You watch Robert get harm,” he said, “and you ask your self if it’s really worth it.” Five months later, I requested Stewart if his interest in running at Indianapolis had heated up once more. “No, now not genuinely,” he said. “That’s been an inner struggle for me. Winning the Indy 500 has been a life-time intention. When I think about jogging every other one, my coronary heart says, ‘Yes.’ My head says, ‘Is this a terrific concept?’ I’m starting to permit my head to win the struggle.” He stated he’d entertain the concept of returning to Indy simplest if he had a hazard to win, and he doesn’t consider that’s a real purpose for a one-race-simplest attempt. “If you’re going to have a chance to win the Indy 500, you’ve got to run a whole lot of the races,” he stated. “I admire the race an excessive amount of, and I recognize the one’s drivers an excessive amount of, to show up for one race.” So for the instant as a minimum, Sprint vehicles are the point of interest for Stewart the motive force. He said Virginia Motor Speedway, a well-manicured dirt half of-mile, might be an ideal venue for the Ollie’s Series cars, careening into the corners with 410 cubic inches of engine strength and downforce courtesy of broad overhead wings. The $10,000-to-win, $1,000-to-begin function event could have a sturdy 24-automobile starting lineup, Stewart promised.
The race is the primary factors occasion of the series’ fifty six-race seasons. Aside from 5 preseason races in Florida at some point of the run as much as the Daytona 500, the Thursday Night Thunder event is the handiest race in a Southern state on Ollie’s 2019 time table. The Sprint Car Series occasion is a part of a statewide March-April agenda that can be visible as Virginia’s annual version of Daytona’s Speedweeks. Racing within the commonwealth will encompass occasions for bikes, move-karts, many stock automobile divisions, sports motors, vehicles, and dragsters. Besides the two Cup activities 3 weekends aside, and their day-before NASCAR guide races — Truck Series at Martinsville, Xfinity Series at Richmond — nearly all of the country’s racing venues have their beginning-night activities round spring’s arrival. South Boston Speedway opened remaining weekend. Southside Speedway’s 60th-anniversary season starts offevolved March 29. Dominion Raceway begins April 6. Langley Speedway opens April eleven opposite Virginia Motor Speedway with a two hundred-lap Late Model race. One music returning to operation with an essential alternate after a yr off is the former Lonesome Pine Speedway in Coeburn. The .375-mile music has been transformed from pavement to dirt and will reopen as Clay Valley Speedway Saturday. Richmond Raceway gets in on the amusing March 30. The Pro All Star Series will carry its Super Late Model Series to the song for a seventy five-lap feature, together with races for different divisions. It’s a veritable automobile racing smorgasbord. Bon appétit, racing lovers.
Randy Hallman, a veteran NASCAR creator, is retired from the Richmond Times-Dispatch. His column seems weekly inside the NASCAR Report.