Getty Images

Roger Penske says fielding Tony Stewart in Indy 500 would be ‘one of the biggest dreams of my life’

2 Comments

BROOKLYN, Mich. – Roger Penske’s desire to field a car for Tony Stewart in the Indianapolis 500 remains as strong as ever. But the offer that Penske made nearly six years ago to put the three-time NASCAR champion in one of his cars for May might be dependent on timing.

“One of the biggest dreams of my life would be to get Tony Stewart in one of our Indy 500 cars,” Penske said Sunday at Michigan International Speedway. “Obviously, we’ve got obligations now. We’ve got four cars running (next year) and to run a fifth would be pretty tough, but who knows over the next couple of years what happens.”

Last Thursday, Stewart said he wants to run the Indy 500 for the first time since 2001, and possibly as early as next season, but he might be unable to take advantage of Penske’s invitation at 2012 NASCAR Awards Ceremony (when he said during his championship speed that he wanted to help Stewart run the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 doubleheader).

Team Penske is slated to field Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, Josef Newgarden and Helio Castroneves in the race next year.

Stewart declined Penske’s offer in 2013, saying he didn’t have time to prepare adequately. The Columbus, Indiana, native said last week that he would want to run at least one IndyCar race before making his sixth start in the Indy 500.

Regardless of which team he is racing for, Penske said Stewart’s return to Indy would be big.

“Just the fact that he would say he’d like to get in one was a real honor for me,” he said. “He’s an icon in Indiana, an icon at Indianapolis, an icon in the sport. To have Stewart out there, it would be something tremendous impact to IndyCar.

“I’d love to have him in a car but he knows it better than I do that timing is everything. To me, if there was a time that we could fit it in and work for him and work for us, he’d be the first guy I’d call.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will race IndyCar stars in iRacing at Michigan

Leave a comment

The invite has been received, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. has another iRacing event on his schedule.

The NASCAR on NBC analyst tweeted Wednesday that he will make his debut in the IndyCar iRacing Challenge with Saturday’s race at Michigan Speedway. The race will be shown live on NBCSN at 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday.

The 2-mile oval was chosen by IndyCar drivers as the third track in the six-race series. Earnhardt heartily endorsed Michigan as a potential iRacing venue Monday along with Daytona and Talladega. Michigan nearly was selected by fans as the opener in the iRacing Challenge.

DRIVE LIKE ANDRETTI: Marco is in for Michigan

REVISED SCHEDULE: IndyCar makes 2020 adjustments

Earnhardt, a longtime avid iRacing fan, had been lobbying since last Thursday that he was interested in racing with IndyCar drivers.

He has driven in the first three races of the eNASCAR Pro Invitational, finishing second to Denny Hamlin in the opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Last year, he attended his first Indianapolis 500, working as an analyst as part of NBC Sports’ inaugural broadcast of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

“I’d love to do it,” Earnhardt said Monday about joining the IndyCar iRacing Challenge. “I think I’d love to get to know those guys.

“I had such a great time at the Indy 500 last year, and the reception that I received from other drivers there really meant a lot to me. So I know they’re all a lot of great dudes in that series that I already know that I’d love to get to know some of them even better.”

It already has been quite the week for Earnhardt, who was announced Monday as one of 15 nominees for the 2021 NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The field for Saturday’s race at Michigan should include another  NASCAR driver in Jimmie Johnson. The seven-time Cup champion has driven the first two races of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge (and has plans to race IndyCar part time in the future).