Times have changed at Indy, and so has Tony Stewart

3 Comments

When NASCAR first announced that it was going to race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – which had, up to that point, only been open for the Indy 500 – it didn’t sit well with everyone. One of those people upset with the idea of stock cars speeding around open-wheel racing’s cathedral was a young Tony Stewart.

But as the Brickyard 400 prepares to celebrate its 20th anniversary running next weekend, Stewart – who has since gone from IndyCar young gun to three-time Sprint Cup Series champion – has noted a change in his views. He still has a deep respect for the ‘500,’ a race he ran five times. But now, he believes that Indy shouldn’t just hold one race, even if that race is pretty big.

“Now with Formula One [having] come in, Moto GP, the Grand-Am Series, Nationwide cars running here, I think the mind-set has changed that it’s too historic of a speedway to run one race a year on it,” Stewart told the Boston Globe. “To be able to bring so many great different series and divisions here, it’s pretty neat that a lot of people get the honor to race at Indy now.”

Three of those series will be in the spotlight next weekend, which has been dubbed the “Super Weekend” by IMS. This coming Friday, the GRAND-AM contingent will race on the IMS road course, with its top-tier Rolex Series staging the three-hour Brickyard Grand Prix. Then on Saturday, the Nationwide Series competes on the legendary Indy oval for 250 miles.

Finally, on Sunday, Stewart and the Sprint Cup Series will go for 400 miles. Stewart has thrilled his fellow Hoosiers with two past victories in the race (2005, 2007), and he’s very much looking to kiss the bricks for a third time.

“This is an event that I definitely circle on the schedule,” he said according to the Sporting News. “To us, it’s definitely not just another stop that’s on the calendar and on the schedule. You don’t just pull in and say, ‘We’re going to go in and try to win the race,’ then pull out of here.

“When you’re here, you’re amped up because you’re at Indianapolis.”

Hartley says debut F1 point would be ‘a dream’ from last on grid

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Brendon Hartley says scoring a point on his Formula 1 debut would be “a dream” after being resigned to last place on the grid for the United States Grand Prix following an engine penalty.

Porsche factory driver Hartley was drafted in by Toro Rosso to replace Pierre Gasly for the USGP when the Frenchman was ruled out due to clashing commitments in Super Formula.

Despite having not driven an F1 car since 2012, Hartley came within one-tenth of a second of making it through to Q2 on Saturday at the Circuit of The Americas, ultimately qualifying 18th.

“Obviously I’d love to be quicker but we knew we were starting at the back, so we put a lot of focus on long runs, getting the peak performance out of this Pirelli tire I didn’t get today,” Hartley told NBCSN after the race.

“In FP3 I had a good feeling. There’s a lot of quirky things to manage with these tires. Honestly I should be happy with how the weekend’s gone so far.”

The New Zealander will start last due to a 25-place grid penalty for changes made to his power unit ahead of practice on Friday, and is daring to dream of making the top 10 in his first race out of a sports car for more than five years.

“I don’t do the 24 hours completely alone!” Hartley joked. “It’s quick. It’s physical to drive. I’ll be happy to be done after an hour and a half.

“A point would be a dream starting from the back. If I can move forward and put a race together, I’ll be happy.”

The United States Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 2pm ET on Sunday.