NASCAR and IndyCar champion Tony Stewart interested in running Indianapolis 500 in 2019
Tony Stewart’s love of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is well documented. Now, the NASCAR and IndyCar champion wants another chance at the Indianapolis 500 in 2019.
The 1997 Indy Racing League and three-time NASCAR Cup champion has two wins in the Brickyard 400, but a best finish of P5 in the famed Indy 500. Although the since-retired Stewart has had no serious talks with any IndyCar teams as of yet, he has made his intentions known at Thursday's unveiling of the 2019 Ford Mustang for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
Despite his interest in just making the one start, he is not interested simply in participating.
“If I go, I’m not going just to run it,” Stewart told NBC Sports, who will be broadcasting the race in 2019. “I don’t want to be a sideshow like Danica [Patrick] was at Indy this year. If I go, I want to go feeling like I’ve got the same opportunity to win that everyone else in the field does.”
“I care about running well in the car. I don’t know want to be the circus sideshow. If I do it, that’s not why I’m doing it. If I do it, I’m doing it because I want to win the race.”
Under IndyCar’s new license rules, Stewart qualifies to jump into a Verizon IndyCar Series entry due to his previous experience in NASCAR and IRL. As the system was designed to keep the top level of IndyCar as the pinnacle of the sport, Stewart understands the importance of competing fairly with the full-time field.
“It’s an insult to the guys who do it every week to show up and think you’re going to be as good as those guys are,” he said. “They’re on their game. They know their cars. They know how they need their cars to feel in practice to be good in the race. It’s foolish to think you can just show up and be competitive and have a shot to win.”
Stewart has run the Indianapolis 500 five times, most recently claiming a P6 finish with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2001. Having long dreamed of winning at Indianapolis, he achieved this goal in the 2005 Brickyard 400. He followed with another win in 2007.