'Today' host Matt Lauer gets Indy ride with Stewart. SPEEDWAY, Ind., (July 31, 2003) - Reigning NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Tony Stewart gave NBC "Today" show host Matt Lauer a ride around Indianapolis Motor Speedway in his signature ...
'Today' host Matt Lauer gets Indy ride with Stewart.
SPEEDWAY, Ind., (July 31, 2003) - Reigning NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Tony Stewart gave NBC "Today" show host Matt Lauer a ride around Indianapolis Motor Speedway in his signature #20 Home Depot Chevrolet. The two then swapped seats, with Lauer showcasing his driving skills as Stewart rode shotgun.
The segment for "Today" was taped and will air tomorrow during the 7-8 a.m. EDT block of the three-hour morning show.
When asked if the experience was what he had expected, Lauer responded, "When I was driving, it was about what I expected. But when Tony was driving, it wasn't even close to what I expected. The straightaways didn't kill me because they were just kind of a blur, but when he would start heading into the turns my whole body would tighten up. And then I watched him working the wheel through the corners, constantly adjusting, and it was just amazing to me the speed we carried into those turns and through them with the fact that he was on the gas for half the corner."
Lauer, who had flown to Indianapolis after completing this morning's edition of "Today," arrived at the historic 2.5-mile oval shortly after 12 p.m. CDT. Taping wrapped two hours later, and Lauer was soon back on an airplane en route to New York City.
"The cab drivers in New York are nothing now," said Lauer, shortly after climbing from the two-seat Home Depot Chevrolet, made available by the Richard Petty Driving Experience. "You know what's great - you go fast in your own car without the skills of a race car driver and it's completely nerve-wracking. You go fast in car with a guy of Tony's skills, and it calms you down a lot. It still scares the hell out of you, but you know he has the skills to handle whatever he sees. That makes a huge difference."
Stewart, a 16-time race winner in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, will look for win number 17 when he makes his fifth career Brickyard 400 start Sunday at Indianapolis. The race starts at 2:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage by NBC.