Tony Stewart set to race in inaugural Xfinity Series event at Indianapolis

Tony Stewart is set to end his hiatus from NASCAR competition this summer, giving Indianapolis Motor Speedway a home-state flair for its NASCAR Xfinity Series race on an oval-road course layout July 4.

Stewart’s scheduled return in the Pennzoil 150 comes more than three years after he retired from full-time driving at the end of the 2016 season. The three-time Cup Series champion has kept active with occasional sprint-car starts, but his NASCAR activity has been focused on his role as a co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing.

“Everyone knows what Indy means to me, so I can’t think of a better place to race on Fourth of July weekend,” Stewart, who grew up 45 minutes from Indianapolis in the towns of Columbus and Rushville, Indiana, said in a team release. “It’s going to be cool making history by turning left and right in a stock car at the Brickyard, and the racing will be full of action and contact. Any time you can drive any race car at the speedway is special, and you know I’m going for the win. The date is already circled on my calendar.”

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Stewart, 48, ended his Cup Series career with 49 victories and titles in 2002, 2005 and 2011. He was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Jan. 31 as part of the Class of 2020.

Stewart’s most recent Xfinity Series start came in 2013, when he prevailed in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway. He has 11 career wins in the series, including seven at Daytona.

The famed Indianapolis venue has always been cherished by Stewart, who scored two Brickyard 400 victories — in 2005 and ’07 — in his Cup Series career. He also made five Indianapolis 500 starts in IndyCar competition, twice starting on the front row and claiming Rookie of the Year honors in 1996.

This summer’s return will present a new challenge for both Stewart and the Xfinity Series’ regulars — a hybrid layout that uses portions of the historic oval and the infield road course. A stock-car test for the combination circuit was performed during the offseason, with Matt DiBenedetto behind the wheel.

According to a team release, details regarding Stewart’s car number, crew and primary partner will be announced closer to the race.

MORE: Photos of DiBenedetto testing at Indianapolis