News & Media

Many pieces to Stewart's perfect night at Prelude

June 05, 2012, Tony Stewart, Special to NASCAR.COM,

I never expected the Prelude to the Dream to be as successful as it's been during the past seven years. This year will mark the eighth annual Prelude to the Dream and our sixth straight year partnering with HBO Pay-Per-View. During this time, we've raised millions of dollars dedicated to the Victory Junction Gang Camp, wounded soldiers and numerous children's hospitals across the country.

This year we've chosen to partner with Feed The Children. They will be the recipient of our net Pay-Per-View proceeds. Something I learned while working with Feed The Children earlier this year: 16 million children go to bed hungry each night in the United States, and the summer months are extremely tough on these children as they are out of school for the year and are unable to take advantage of the meals provided there.

The main reason this event has been so successful is the commitment of the drivers each and every year, and I cannot thank them enough. The media paints a picture that I am the one responsible for the Prelude, but I'm just a very small piece of the puzzle that makes this event so special. There are 27 other drivers that take a full day out of their schedules to come to Eldora the first or second Wednesday every June. It's these guys that deserve the credit. I know that we, as NASCAR drivers, do not get many days off throughout the year, and it's special for me to know that all these drivers commit to coming to the Prelude.

* Video: What Stewart thinks makes the Prelude special

I've been fortunate enough to win the Prelude three times, but those wins aren't what make the Prelude a perfect night. In 2007, I actually got caught up in a wreck and couldn't finish the race. I immediately got on top of my hauler and watched Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards battle three-wide for the win. It was some of the best racing I had ever seen at Eldora in my life. It was Jeff's first time on dirt in more than a decade, and he didn't miss a beat. That was my perfect night.

When I roam the pits throughout the night and talk to each of the drivers, each one of them has a grin from ear to ear, and each tells me, "This is how racing should be." And that's what makes a perfect night. When Jimmie Johnson won in 2010 and got out of the car and gave me hug and said, "This is awesome," that's a perfect night. When I look up in the stands and see 20,000 fans cheering for their favorite driver and enjoying the night, that's what makes my perfect night. Knowing that we can write a check to Feed The Children and help fight hunger across America, that's a perfect night.

Clint Bowyer Racing has dominated the past two events. I think 2012 might be our year. I'm confident that Mark and Josh Richards will give me a great car for [Wednesday] night. I hope we can get up front and challenge Clint and Kyle and those others that I know will be up there. Wednesday night, first place or last, it will be another perfect night at Eldora

Prelude to the Dream begins at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday, June 6, and is available on HBO Pay-Per-View. It can be ordered at or Updates can be found on Facebook and on Twitter @PreludeToDream.