IN ELITE CLUB THIS YEAR
After his team's performance duringthe 2009 Daytona 500 Speed weeks, it isn't a matter of "if" this season forTony Stewart. It's a matter of "when" he will win a NASCAR Sprint Cup race in 2009.
After finishing second in his qualifying race, Stewart started fifth and finished eighth in the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 15. He ran with the front pack most of the day, including leading 15 laps, until rain shuffled therunning order and ended the race. In addition, his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Ryan Newman reinforced the strength of the first-year organization by setting the third-fastest qualifying time for the 500. "Jeff Gordon has said several times how badly he wants to win his fifth Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, and that would be an incredible feat," saidJoie Chitwood, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president and chief operatingofficer. "However, it is hard to find a driver who wants to win races at the Brickyard more than Tony Stewart. It would not surprise me to see him drive his Chevrolet into Victory Lane in July for his third 400 win." The 16th Allstate 400 at the Brickyard is scheduled for Sunday, July 26.
When Stewart wins a NASCAR Sprint Cup in 2009 with his Stewart-Haas RacingTeam, he will join an elite group of drivers who have won a major motorsports race in the last 20 years driving a car he also owned. Ricky Rudd was the last driver/owner to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup event when he triumphed in September 1998 at Martinsville, Va. And one year before winning at Martinsville, Rudd won the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard in 1997.In total, Rudd won six races as a driver/owner in NASCAR's premier series. Geoffrey Bodine won four races as driver/owner.
His last win was in 1996 atWatkins Glen, N.Y. Alan Kulwicki was the last owner/driver to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. He won two races in 1992 on the way to winning the championship. Bodine purchased the team after Kulwicki's death in 1993.
Darrell Waltrip won six races as a driver/owner. The last of those wins was in September 1992 at Darlington, S.C. Lake Speed was the last driver/owner before Waltrip to win, also winning at Darlington in March 1988. In major league open-wheel racing, Mexico's Adrian Fernandez was the last successful owner/driver. Fernandez won three of the last six IndyCar Series races in 2004. IndyCar Series driver Eddie Cheever was the last man to drink milk inVictory Lane at Indianapolis as an owner and driver after winning the 1998 Indianapolis 500 behind the wheel of one of two cars he entered in the race that year.
*** 2009 IMS tickets: Established in 1909, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has long prevailed as an icon of motorsports excellence. Beginning in 2009, theSpeedway celebrates its Centennial Era, commemorating the 100th anniversaryof the facility in 2009 and the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500Mile Race in 2011.
Tickets for the three events in 2009 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway -the 93rd Indianapolis 500, 16th Allstate 400 at the Brickyard and second RedBull Indianapolis GP - can be purchased online at indianapolismotorspeedway.com at any time. .AS4002009-003