Stewart’s sprint car win excites Michigan dirt track owner, fans

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Tri-City Motor Speedway (Auburn, Mich.) owner Steve Puvalowski wasn’t exactly sure what to make of the giant hauler bearing the word “Smoke” when it pulled into his track yesterday afternoon.

But it eventually became clear that a very special guest would be coming to race.

Last night at Tri-City, three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart returned to sprint car racing for the first time since his season-ending crash last year at the Southern Iowa Speedway.

After finishing second in his heat, Stewart was able to make a late charge to the front in last night’s Sprints on Dirt feature before winning in front of a jacked-up, near-capacity crowd.

“I don’t know how he chose Tri-City to come race at,” Puvalowski said to the Midland (Mich.) Daily News. “I know he’s raced with Sprints on Dirt before. I’m pretty sure it was at Plymouth Speedway in Ohio.”

But while Puvalowski couldn’t figure out why Stewart decided to show up to Tri-City, you can bet that he and the fans in attendance were more than happy to have him visit.

“He’s a real nice guy, and this kind of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (for our racetrack) – it was definitely a great crowd pleaser,” he said, adding that Stewart signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans for a short time in post-race.

“People loved it. It was a great race. There was a lot of action going on. It was a great race by itself, and having Tony Stewart there made it an awesome race.”

And Stewart’s apparently not done with his dirt-track fun on this off-weekend for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. According to FoxSports.com’s Tom Jensen, Stewart is competing tonight in another Sprints on Dirt event at Crystal (Mich.) Motor Speedway.

In addition, noted sprint car racing site TJSlideways.com has tweeted tonight’s SOD roster at Crystal, with Stewart and his familiar No. 14 on it:

Indeed, Stewart is remaining true to his word after vowing back in May that his big wreck wouldn’t stop him from doing what he wants.

“I’m going to live my life,” he said at the time. “It’s nobody else’s decision, but mine. I think there are a lot worse things I could be doing with my life than what I choose to do.”

Alonso enjoys maiden Toyota LMP1 test, ends as second-fastest rookie

Adrenal Media
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Fernando Alonso took his first step towards a possible entry to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2018 by testing an LMP1 car for the first time with Toyota in Bahrain on Sunday.

Two-time Formula 1 world champion Alonso has made no secret of his desire to race at Le Mans, having signed a deal to race in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January as preparation for a possible entry at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Toyota confirmed after Saturday’s FIA World Endurance Championship finale in Bahrain that Alonso would be testing its TS050 Hybrid LMP1 car in the traditional rookie test on Sunday.

Alonso was given the car for the bulk of the five-hour test day following an initial shakedown by Sebastien Buemi, completing 113 laps in total – more than any other driver – and posting a best lap time of 1:43.013.

“It was a great day,” Alonso said. “Testing an LMP1 car is always a nice thing for any racing driver because these cars are amazing to drive. They are very consistent throughout a stint which is a positive thing.

“I have wanted to test a car like this for a long time now and today I could achieve that, so I am happy.”

However, Alonso did not finish as the fastest rookie, with that honor instead going to Pietro Fittipaldi, who was the final driver to drive the Porsche 919 Hybrid ahead of the closure of the German marque’s LMP1 program.

Alonso is now set to head back to Europe before a test in United Autosports’ LMP2 car on Tuesday as part of his Daytona preparation, before then returning to the Middle East for the F1 season finale in Abu Dhabi next weekend.