- Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 July 2009 19:47
- Published on Wednesday, 15 July 2009 19:47
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Racing at the Brickyard is a special event for the teams on the Cup circuit. There is no other race track in America that can rival the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for prestige and history. Everybody wants a win at the “Brickyard” on his resume. For Sprint Cup points leader Tony Stewart and his teammate Ryan Newman, Sunday's, Allstate 400 at the Brickyard is like coming home.
Stewart and Newman, both born and raised in Indiana, cut their racing teeth in three-quarter midgets before most youngsters began playing Little League baseball. They progressed up through the ranks, racing midgets and sprint cars on the rough and tumble Midwestern circuit before moving to NASCAR. For a kid with the racing bug growing up in Indiana, racing and winning at Indianapolis was the ultimate.
To this day Tony Stewart makes his home in the town he grew up in, Columbus, Ind. Ryan Newman grew up in nearby South Bend, Ind. When he became co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing during this past off-season, one of Stewart’s first orders of business was to sign his friend and fellow Hoosier Ryan Newman to drive the team’s second car. Their instant success has far surpassed expectations.
With just seven races to go until the start of this year’s “Chase for the Championship,” both of the Stewart-Haas teammates are securely in the Race for the Chase. Stewart, with two points race wins and a victory in NASCAR’s All-Star race this spring at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, has a healthy 175 point lead in the championship race. Teammate Ryan Newman is solidly in the hunt in seventh place.
This past week they met with the media and talked about racing, Indianapolis, and their formative years growing up in the Midwest. After the tire debacle that turned last year’s Brickyard 400 into a series of 10 lap sprints that made the 400-mile race a total farce, the conversation began with tires and what we can expect this weekend.
Stewart, a frequent critic of the tires Goodyear has provided on the Cup circuit, was involved in Goodyear tire tests at the speedway in preparation for this year’s Brickyard 400 and had these comments.
“Am I concerned about the tires? Not at all. I came up here for two days. Ryan has been up here quite a bit with Goodyear, and I can promise you that they have put a full court press on making sure we don’t have the same issues that we had last year. I’ve gained a lot of respect for Goodyear over just the process of working on the tires for Indianapolis and the dedication that they’ve shown to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”
“We were able to run almost 30 laps and still not even be down to the cords on the tires, so I’m very confident that there shouldn’t be any issues at all.”
Asked if he approached the race any differently as an owner rather than just a driver, Stewart replied, “No, honestly you can’t. You pretty much stick with what you’ve been doing and what’s working for you. You know, the great thing for me is that I’ve got a great support structure at Stewart-Haas. It allows me and Ryan the flexibility to just come here and worry about what we do best and that’s drive.”
Ryan Newman was asked if he approached Sunday’s race any differently than others. “I’m a big racing historian, I like the history of the sport, and I’ve always said to know that people like A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Jim Hurtubise and Mel Kenyon, all those people, have been through here at some point walking the same path out to the pit lane and driving the same line on the race track,” Newman said.
“That to me means more than anything else, just the history of all the auto racing here at this race track. It’s a great racetrack, both Tony and I being from Indiana, with the open wheel side of things, the racing that we’ve done all across every part of Indiana. I would speculate there’s very few racetracks in this state that either one of us hasn’t raced at. It’s just a great place to come back and enjoy racing and the fans.”