Tony Stewart to donate custom scooter, hopes to raise over $100,000 for charity

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In what could very well be the ultimate souvenir for Tony Stewart fans, the three-time Sprint Cup champion announced Thursday that he’ll donate the custom scooter he used for several months while rehabbing from last August’s gruesome sprint car accident to the Darrell Gwynn Foundation.

In turn, the Foundation will place the scooter up for bid at the upcoming Barrett-Jackson auction April 11-13 in Palm Beach, Fla. It’s expected the one-of-a-kind ride could fetch $100,000 or more.

“We thought long and hard about what we should do with the scooter when we were finished with it,” said Stewart, who will climb back into a Sprint Car for the first time since last August’s crash on Friday. “After working with Darrell Gwynn and his foundation for so many years, I know there are a lot of people who aren’t as fortunate, and that a scooter is a way of life.

“The scooter I used after my accident is top of the line, and it will serve someone very well. I want it to go to a deserving person, but I also want it to help others. Auctioning it off at Barrett-Jackson, where all the money will go to the Darrell Gwynn Foundation, allows Darrell and his group to serve its mission by providing support for people living with paralysis.”

After undergoing three surgeries, Stewart managed to get around in the custom-made four-wheeler both at his team’s headquarters in suburban Charlotte, as well as at several races he attended late in the season.

But there’s more to just donating the scooter to raise funds for the foundation Gwynn started nearly 20 years ago after being paralyzed in a drag racing accident.

Stewart and his team have gone all out to trick out the scooter with a paint scheme that mirrors his No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS. In addition, the overall package will include Stewart’s signature on the scooter and a race-worn firesuit, as well as a trip and accommodations for two to the Coke Zero 400 race at Daytona International Speedway on July 5.

And the topper of the package: the highest bidder and guest will have two of the best seats in the house for the race, watching from atop Stewart’s pit box.

Stewart hopes to ultimately raise more than $100,000 for Gwynn’s foundation, pledging to match the first $50,000 bid made for the scooter.

“I’m putting my money where my mouth is, too,” Stewart said. “The scooter and the money will be well served by Darrell and his team, who have donated wheelchairs to hundreds of individuals through its National Wheelchair Donation Program. I’m impressed with everything Darrell has done for others and I’m very proud to contribute to his foundation’s mission.”

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Alex Palou fastest as several go off course during IndyCar practice at IMS

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
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Alex Palou paced the opening practice Thursday for the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Dale Coyne Racing rookie turned a 1-minute, 10.177-second lap around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in his No. 55 Dallara-Honda.

Jack Harvey was second, followed by Colton Herta, points leader Scott Dixon and Max Chilton.

PRACTICE CHART: Click here to see the speed rundown from Thursday’s session

FRIDAY AT IMS: Details for watching Race 1 of the Harvest GP

Qualifying for Friday’s race will be at 6:20 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC Sports Gold.

Will Power, who won the pole position for the July 4 race at the track, spun off course with just more than a minute left in the session after the left rear of his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet made slight contact with the right front of Alexander Rossi’s No. 28 Dallara-Honda.

Power was among several drivers who went off track, but there were no damaged cars during the session. Marcus Ericsson missed the final 5 minutes of the practice after being penalized for causing a red flag with a Turn 8 spin.

Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward and Helio Castroneves, who is driving for Oliver Askew (who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms), also veered off course as did rookie Rinus VeeKay and Santino Ferrucci.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was in attendance at the session before racing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Johnson will be driving a partial schedule of road and street courses in IndyCar next season for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Literally, the smallest of details, I can pick up on,” Johnson told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “It’s been really nice today just to see how a session starts and obviously to jump on the radio and listen to how the systems work and then obviously you get into the car and the setup and such. I’m at ground zero right now, a 45-year-old rookie trying to learn my way into a new sport essentially.”

Johnson told Lee his sponsorship hunt to run a Ganassi car “has gone really well. The fact that I’m here today and ingrained so deeply in the team is a great sign of where things are going. Looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a car soon and hopefully having some announcements for the world to see soon, too.”

Fans were in attendance Thursday for the first time this season at IMS, which is allowed a limited crowd of 10,000 for its races this weekend.