News & Media


Stewart optimistic about Indy, three-car future

July 25, 2012, Joe Menzer, NASCAR.com

Losing Army as sponsor in 2013 a setback but has hope for a replacement

It's always been a big deal for Indiana native Tony Stewart to head to his home state for a race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and this weekend figures to be no different.

Speaking on a national teleconference call Tuesday, Stewart touched on his pending return to Indy as a driver and also said he continues to work hard as an owner to find a way to keep Ryan Newman as a fellow driver while expanding Stewart-Haas Racing to a three-car team in 2013.

"There are a lot of new companies that we are seeing in the sport, and we are seeing that in our organization. So we are not giving up hope."

--TONY STEWART

Stewart said he's excited about his first visit to Indy with Steve Addington as his crew chief.

"It's our first season together and have three wins already, so obviously I'm really proud of that," Stewart said. "Steve knows it's a big week for me. It's a big weekend for everybody. Not only for myself being from Indiana, but because the Brickyard is probably the second biggest race on our schedule behind the Daytona 500 now. So everybody gets really geared up for it."

Stewart has won twice at IMS, in 2005 and again in 2007.

Asked Tuesday about where he stands on retaining Newman in 2013 following the recent announcement Newman's primary sponsor, the U.S. Army, is pulling out of NASCAR, Stewart replied: "We're working on it. It's definitely still a setback, but we're still pushing forward and doing everything we can to get that done."

Stewart reiterated that he still hopes to field three cars full time in the Sprint Cup Series, with Danica Patrick joining him and Newman.

"It has been [the hope] since we signed Danica," Stewart said of Patrick, the former IndyCar star who currently is running her first full-time NASCAR season on the Nationwide Series level while also running a part-time Cup schedule for SHR. She and SHR already are committed to each other to run a full-time Cup schedule next season.

Stewart admitted losing the U.S. Army sponsorship on Newman's car was a blow, but he insisted that it was not one from which SHR cannot recover.

"It was definitely a huge disappointment when we learned that we were going to lose the U.S. Army. And it's not something that we have had a lot of at Stewart-Haas Racing, [because] we have not lost a lot of partners," he said. "We are going to miss having them on board next year.

"But I still think [the sponsorship landscape] is coming around. There are a lot of new companies that we are seeing in the sport, and we are seeing that in our organization. So we are not giving up hope and throwing in the towel thinking that we are losing one sponsor; we are going to hopefully be able to try to find somebody else."

With his three wins in the first 19 races this season, Stewart is tied with Brad Keselowski for most in the Sprint Cup Series heading into this Sunday's race at Indy. That's a vast improvement compared to where he was at this point last season, when he had no wins in the first 26 races and barely made the Chase for the Sprint Cup field -- only to then go on to win five of the 10 Chase races and his third championship.

That means he won't have to risk as much in this Sunday's race, unless he figures the potential reward is well worth it.

"I think the biggest thing for us right now, even though it's a big weekend, this is one battle in the war, and the war is to try to win a championship at the end of the season," Stewart said. "To do that, we've got to beat the system.

"So I don't think an all-or-nothing attitude is the approach we are going to have this week. We definitely have that luxury to do that with the three wins that we've got. But I think right now in the big picture, we are trying to get the consistency the best we can, and I would like to see us put together some consistent runs before the Chase actually starts."

As for what makes him so good at Indy, that's not something Stewart is willing to share.

"I think there are some things that help me there, but they're not things that I would ever tell anybody," Stewart said. "You know, I think there are some variables, things that we do that definitely are worthwhile and help us during the race. But those are trade secrets that you've got to hold onto for yourself for as long as you can."