TONY STEWART Undefeated* KERNERSVILLE, N.C. (March 31, 2009) -- Tony Stewart is undefeated.* After winning the season-opening NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway to score his fourth Nationwide Series victory...
KERNERSVILLE, N.C. (March 31, 2009) -- Tony Stewart is undefeated.*
After winning the season-opening NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway to score his fourth Nationwide Series victory at Daytona and the eighth Nationwide Series win of his career, Stewart comes into round five at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth with a goose egg in the loss column. Granted, it helps that Stewart hasn't competed in the Nationwide Series since Daytona, but after a three-race hiatus, Stewart is back.
Driving the No. 33 Armor All Chevrolet for Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) in Saturday's O'Reilly 300, Stewart comes into the Lone Star State intent on keeping his win streak alive. And between his performance at Daytona and that of his car owner in the most recent Nationwide Series race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Stewart appears ready to nab his second straight Nationwide Series win.
Harvick, who owns KHI along with wife DeLana, won at Bristol to score his 33rd career Nationwide Series win but first as a driver/owner. Harvick wheeled his No. 33 Chevy to the front of the 300-lap race on two occasions to lead a total of 46 laps, including the final 45.
Now it's Stewart's turn behind the wheel of the series' most recent race-winning car. Painted in the bright yellow and orange hue of sponsor Armor All, the No. 33 Chevy is what Stewart will use to make his sixth career Nationwide Series start at Texas.
In his five previous Nationwide Series starts at the 1.5-mile oval, Stewart has led 155 laps and scored three top-10 finishes. Even scarier for those going up against Stewart and the No. 33 team is that Stewart has led those laps in his last three Nationwide Series races at Texas, where he finished second in the 2006 fall race with 36 laps led, seventh in the 2007 fall race with 114 laps led and 10th in the 2008 spring race with five laps led.
The hard-charging Stewart will attempt to add to the two trophies he already took from Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage in 2006 -- an April trophy for winning round two of IROC XXX and a November trophy for winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
If Stewart earns a third Texas trophy after Saturday's O'Reilly 300, it will provide the ideal finish to the series of Armor All-sponsored webisodes featuring Stewart on NASCAR.com.
Off Track with Tony Stewart will air twice a month beginning April 1. The first of the seven webisodes was shot at Stewart's 414-acre spread in his hometown of Columbus, Ind. Other webisodes include a trip with Stewart's World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series team to Las Vegas, a tour of his race shop and a visit inside his personal shop, which features the Pontiac from his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win, a 1957 Chevy Bel-Air and a black 1979 Pontiac Trans Am -- a Smokey and the Bandit edition complete with CB radio. The final webisode will detail Stewart's efforts in the O'Reilly 300 at Texas.
Wanting his webisode series to end with a flourish, Stewart has his eyes set on staying undefeated in Nationwide Series competition in 2009.
Tony Stewart, Driver of the No. 33 Armor All NASCAR Nationwide Series Chevrolet Impala SS at Texas Motor Speedway
Kevin and DeLana Harvick have said that you racing for them in the early years of KHI helped get their race team off the ground. As a new Sprint Cup owner, can you see how valuable your time behind the wheel was for them?
"I think they underestimated what they did for themselves. They put together a great organization, which enabled me to win with them and for Kevin to win in his own car. It took him awhile to get that first win with his own team, but they've run well everywhere they've been. They had been in position to win many times before that, but something small always seemed to happen that kept them out of victory lane. They've had the capability and the opportunity to be in victory lane a lot since they started that team, and we've got another shot to get another win for them this weekend at Texas."
Your first career Nationwide Series win came with KHI at Daytona in February 2005, and you won with them again at Daytona in February 2006. What's it like to be back driving for them at Texas?
"I'm excited about it. I love Kevin and DeLana. They're some of my best friends. I enjoy the opportunity to be able to drive with them again. I've had fun with them. It's always nice to know that DeLana is there on race day and supportive of what we're doing. She's just as into it when Kevin's behind the wheel. It's fun. It's like driving for some of your best friends."
After winning five Nationwide Series races last year and beginning this year with another Nationwide Series win at Daytona, what are your expectations for Texas?
"Kevin's program, especially at Texas, is always good. Every time I've run with them there, we've run well, and that's all you can ask for. I'm very hopeful that we'll have a good opportunity to win with the Armor All Chevy."
Given the fact that you don't have to worry about points, has competing in the Nationwide Series been like running NASCAR in its purest form -- you're there just to win?
"You're still racing for points for the team. The team's going to run every race, so even though you're not behind the steering wheel every race, it's not a go-for-broke attitude. You're still point racing. Not on your behalf, but on the team's behalf. That part you still take pride in. As far as winning, it's still your personal goal as a driver to go out and win, and that doesn't change no matter what you're driving. If it's just a team that's only running a part-time schedule, then you can go with that go-for-broke attitude. But Kevin and DeLana are out there running for a championship. You want to go out and race and be conscious of that every time you're in the car for them."
Armor All will be on your car at Texas. They've been following you around a bit chronicling your life for a series of webisodes that will appear on NASCAR.com. What's it been like to let a camera crew into your life, to let the average fan see what you do when you're not at the racetrack?
"It's been fun. We've done car washes, driven them around the property (in Columbus, Ind.) and only scared them a little bit (laughs). We've had a lot of fun. The great thing is that the people at Armor All are great people to deal with and be around. That's what makes it so much fun -- when you have people around that you have fun working with. I remember us winning the Nationwide race at Daytona with them on the car when I was at Joe Gibbs Racing (2008) and how excited they were, so it's nice to have them on the car again."
Armor All has been a huge supporter of your World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series program. Talk about that relationship.
"They've been a huge, huge asset with our World of Outlaws program and our USAC program. With those two series, obviously we're talking about dealing with dirt, and anything you can do to keep the dirt from sticking means less weight that you accumulate during the race. Fortunately, Armor All's line of car care products work perfectly for that. The same stuff we use on our World of Outlaws cars and our Sprint cars, you can use on your own car to keep it nice and clean and shiny. We use it for that and to keep the mud from sticking to our racecars. We kind of get the best of both worlds with them."
Kevin Harvick, Owner of the No. 33 Armor All NASCAR Nationwide Series Chevrolet Impala SS at Texas Motor Speedway
You've said that Tony Stewart driving for KHI back in the team's early years helped put KHI on the map. How so?
"It was Tony's idea to run our first Nationwide Series race back in 2004. At that point, we were just a Truck-only operation. He mentioned it to me, and I thought 'Why not?' So that's basically how our entire Nationwide Series program got started. He's been very instrumental in KHI's success from the very beginning."
You've been a car owner in NASCAR for six years now. What advice do you have for Stewart now that he's a car owner in NASCAR?
"I've learned to surround myself with 'real racers' because they share the same passion for the sport. If he hires those types of people, and he gets the right group of people together, he'll be fine."
Cameras have been following Stewart around since this past off-season for a series of webisodes on NASCAR.com. You've been a part of reality shows where there are cameras seemingly following your every move. What advice do you have for Stewart in dealing with the cameras that are following him around, especially this weekend at Texas?
"Tony's a professional in front of the camera. Plus, if I had any advice for him, he probably wouldn't take it anyway."
Chassis No. 038: This car was first used in February 2008 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., when KHI owner Kevin Harvick started sixth and finished third. Harvick drove chassis No. 036 five other times in 2008: Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga. (March) -- started sixth, finished second; Texas Motor Speedway (April) -- started first, finished 34th; Dover (Del.) International Speedway (May) -- started 13th, finished 17th; Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., (July) -- started fourth, finished 18th; Auto Club Speedway (August) -- started ninth, finished 11th. Chassis No. 038's lone race without Harvick came in August 2008 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. There, Cale Gale started second and finished 19th. The O'Reilly 300 at Texas will be Chassis No. 038's first race in 2009 and its eighth overall.