RELATED: Almirola to run the No. 10 in 2018
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. — Team co-owner Tony Stewart has continued to race outside of NASCAR after stepping down from his role as a full-time driver in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series following the 2016 season.
But Wednesday at the Stewart-Haas Racing headquarters, the three-time Monster Energy Series champion said there could be a return to NASCAR competition in his future, possibly in the XFINITY Series.
“There are actually some road course races that I might be interested in running; we’ve discussed it in-house but we don’t have anything near worth announcing,” Stewart said during a press conference to introduce Aric Almirola as driver of the organization’s No. 10 Ford for 2018.
Almirola was asked about running XFINITY Series in ’18 because SHR recently announced a relationship with Biagi-DenBeste Racing for next year. Almirola has driven for the team in the past, winning the summer race in 2016 and ’17 at Daytona International Speedway.
But before giving Almirola his blessing to continue competing in the XFINITY Series, Stewart said some of the tracks have attracted his interest in a potential return.
“There are some really cool races,” Stewart said, “especially Charlotte having the road course race next year. I mean there might be some opportunities that might be a little fun for me to come out and dust things off a little bit.”
Later, Stewart said such a possibility is “somewhere down the road.
“It will not happen this coming year but … I would like to maybe dabble in a couple of races here or there,” he said.
The XFINITY Series competes at two road courses separate from the Monster Energy Series — Mid-Ohio in Lexington, Ohio, and Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
Stewart said Mid-Ohio would be off the table because of a scheduling conflict with the Knoxville Nationals sprint car program.
“I’ve never raced at (some of) those tracks before so there might be some opportunities to do that down the road and help our program,” he said.
Stewart was a successful open-wheel racer before he began making the transition to NASCAR in 1996. Since his retirement from racing in NASCAR at the end of 2016, he has resumed his racing career in sprint cars.
He is the owner of a national racing series as well as Eldora Speedway, one of dirt racing’s legendary venues.
Stewart, who co-owns Stewart-Haas Racing with businessman Gene Haas, won in his last XFINITY Series start, in 2013 at Daytona. He is an 11-time winner in the series.
In Monster Energy Cup competition, Stewart won championships in 2002 and ’05 while with Joe Gibbs Racing, then in ’11 with SHR. He has 49 career wins.