Fort Wayne pre-race notes, news

STEWART RETURNING TO FORT WAYNE DEC. 29-30; KIMBRELL RETURNS TO CLOSE OUT USAC'S 1ST 50 YEARS NASCAR Nextel Cup Champion Tony Stewart will return to USAC competition Dec. 29-30 for race organizer Tony Barhorst's "Rumble in...

STEWART RETURNING TO FORT WAYNE DEC. 29-30; KIMBRELL RETURNS TO CLOSE OUT USAC'S 1ST 50 YEARS

NASCAR Nextel Cup Champion Tony Stewart will return to USAC competition Dec. 29-30 for race organizer Tony Barhorst's "Rumble in Fort Wayne" indoor Midget races at the Memorial Coliseum Expo Center in Fort Wayne, Ind. Joining him for USAC's final races of its 50th year will be Les Kimbrell, the man who scored USAC's first race at Fort Wayne in 1956.

Stewart, now a two-time Cup Champion and one of only two drivers ever to sweep USAC's three National Championships in a single season (1995), will pilot the "Munchkin" which carried him to victory at Fort Wayne last year. The winner of 52 USAC feature events since 1991, Stewart has won at least one USAC race every year since 1991 except in 1999 when he was named NASCAR's Cup "Rookie of the Year."

Stewart will be honored Jan. 28 at the USAC "Night of Champions" banquet in Indianapolis, Ind. as the car entrant co-champion of the Weld Racing Silver Crown Series. He and Bob East fielded Dave Steele's mount, which claimed four victories in 10 starts. Tony also fielded the car which carried Josh Wise to the 2005 USAC National Midget driving title.

A pair of 60-lap feature events for the Midgets are the primary attractions of Barhorst's "Rumble" which also features Quarter Midgets, Go-Karts, Outlaw Winged Midgets and NASKARTS.

Stewart competed in last year's Fort Wayne events in disguise as the son of Mike Fedorcak, from whom he purchased the car earlier in the week. Obviously the victory lane ceremonies revealed his true identity.

The Fort Wayne races complete USAC's 50th year as a sanctioning body, although its 2005 National Champions have already been determined. Since Jan. 8, 1956, when USAC's first event was held in the adjacent Fort Wayne Memorial Coliseum, a total of 7,068 feature events will have been conducted. The 2005 season will end up as USAC's busiest ever, with 255 total races on the calendar.

Dave Darland, like Stewart a former USAC Triple Crown Champion, shared the spotlight with Stewart at Fort Wayne last year. Aaron Pierce, who finished second to Darland and sixth to Stewart, was the fastest qualifier for both Fort Wayne races a year ago.

Serving as Grand Marshals for the Rumble in Fort Wayne this year are Larry Rice and Tom Bigelow. Rice is a multiple USAC champion (2 Silver Crown titles and a National Midget championship), while Bigelow is USAC's winningest Sprint car driver of all time (52 victories).

Kimbrell, of Lafayette, Ind., who scored USAC's initial race at Fort Wayne in 1956, is expected to make an appearance at USAC's final event of its first 50 years as an honorary scorer.

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Series USAC
Drivers Tony Stewart , Dave Darland , Dave Steele , Josh Wise