INDIANAPOLIS - Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion and Indiana native Tony Stewart will come to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in late July with one purpose in mind – joining the exclusive company of three-time winners at the Racing Capital of the World.
“That would be huge,” said Stewart. “You look at the history of this track and you look at whose won races here and how many times they've won, and I was honored to win one of them, and the second was even that much better.
“When you realize how much thinner it gets when you start adding one more victory, you get into some pretty elite company, and it's some company you'd definitely like having your name associated with, so it would be a big honor. It doesn't matter if you've won one or 20, when I'm at Indy I am only here to win, especially since it is my home track.”
The 20th running of the Crown Royal Presents the Samuel Deeds 400 at the Brickyard Powered by BigMachineRecords.com on July 28 will be the climactic event of the second annual Kroger Super Weekend at the Brickyard. The annual NASCAR Sprint Cup race at IMS will give Stewart the opportunity to replicate his dream come true of kissing the famous Yard of Bricks following his first Brickyard 400 win in 2005. He also won the race in 2007.
“It was everything to me,” Stewart said. “My whole life, since I was a kid, that's what I wanted to do. Not that I had some fascination with kissing bricks as a child. But my fascination to do it here was pretty obsessive.”
With the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entering its 20th year of competition at IMS, Stewart believes the race's stature is continuing to grow among his competitors.
“The longer I've been with NASCAR, the more that everybody wants to win this race,” Stewart said. “This is a marquee event. The way I sense it now the Daytona 500 is still the biggest race of the year, but the Brickyard is the second-biggest race of the year to the NASCAR guys, and that's something that I'm pretty proud of. It deserves that level of respect, and this facility is a one-of-a-kind. As time has gone on, the fans understand how big of an event this is and how much it means to the teams and drivers to not only run well at the Brickyard, but to also understand what a marquee event it is. It's really a big boost to your team if you can win at Indy.”
Another element that has added to the prominence of NASCAR's annual trip to IMS is that the list of winners includes many Cup champions, such as Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Jimmie Johnnson, Bobby Labonte, Bill Elliott, Dale Jarrett and Stewart.
“With the exception of maybe once or twice, the guys that normally win here are the guys in contention to win the championship every year,” Stewart said. “It usually isn't a fuel-mileage race. It normally comes down to the fastest car always wins here, and that's what you want in a marquee event like this. You want the fastest car to win, the best team and the best driver on that day.”
A notoriously slow starter during his NASCAR career, once again Stewart got off to a sluggish start this season. But with a recent win at Dover and a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Daytona, Stewart is 10th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings as he enters the mid-summer portion of the schedule.
“I would say probably the last 13 or 14 years, people have been asking me that same question,” Stewart said about why he gets into a groove during the summer. “I never have had a good answer.
“I honestly don't know. The only thing I can think of is just the tracks get hot and get slick. Seems like when the tracks get slick, that plays into your driving style a little bit.”
Kroger Super Weekend at the Brickyard
In addition to the Crown Royal Presents the Samuel Deeds 400 at the Brickyard Powered by BigMachineRecords.com, the Kroger Super Weekend at the Brickyard weekend schedule also features the NASCAR Nationwide Series racing in the Indiana 250 Saturday, July 27 on the IMS oval, and GRAND-AM Road Racing conducting separate races for its Rolex Sports Car Series and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge on July 26 on the 13-turn IMS Grand Prix road course.
Ticket orders for the 2013 Kroger Super Weekend at the Brickyard can be made at www.ims.com/tickets and through the IMS Ticket Office at (317) 492-6700, or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area, or by visiting the ticket office at the IMS Administration Building at the corner of Georgetown Road and 16th Street between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.
General admission tickets will cost $10 for July 25, $30 for July 26, $25 for July 27 and $30 for July 28. A four-day Kroger Super Weekend general admission ticket is $80. A three-day general admission ticket (Thursday-Saturday) is $65. Children ages 12 and under will be admitted free any of the four days of the Super Weekend at the Brickyard when accompanied by an adult with a general admission ticket. Reserved tickets for the Saturday and Sunday action also will be available at various price ranges.
(Courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway)