IRL: Stewart returns to Indy

Never Say Never Double Duty II - Tony Stewart Returns to Indy SPEEDWAY, Ind., (May 7, 2001) - He did it in 1999, and despite saying, "I'll never do that again," Stewart will indeed be pulling double duty for the second time in three years by ...

Never Say Never
Double Duty II - Tony Stewart Returns to Indy

SPEEDWAY, Ind., (May 7, 2001) - He did it in 1999, and despite saying, "I'll never do that again," Stewart will indeed be pulling double duty for the second time in three years by competing in the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day - May 27.

The driver of the #20 Home Depot Pontiac in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series has been given clearance by Joe Gibbs Racing and The Home Depot to team with CART driver Jimmy Vasser and pilot a G-Force/Aurora Indy Racing League entry for the two-car Target Chip Ganassi Racing organization in the 85th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Ganassi, a four-time CART Series championship team owner and defending winner of the Indianapolis 500, recruited Stewart for an attempt at a second Indianapolis 500 crown after intense negotiations with Joe Gibbs Racing and representatives from The Home Depot.

"In our original contract negotiations, Tony and I discussed his desire to win the Indianapolis 500," said Gibbs. "We agreed that we would help him reach his goal. We think that this is a good opportunity for him and Home Depot to achieve this dream. In case of any conflicts, Tony's number one responsibility will be the #20 Home Depot car and the Coca-Cola 600. We have made all arrangements to assure that Tony will start the Coca-Cola 600."

"Our entire organization of over 250,000 associates enthusiastically supports Tony Stewart and his pursuit of his dream," said Dick Sullivan, senior vice president of marketing for The Home Depot. "We are happy to be a part of one of the most exciting days in motorsports history, and thrilled that through this effort we will be able to make a difference for some children and their families who must cope with a difficult set of circumstances on a daily basis."

Adding further luster to Stewart's second attempt at double duty is his pledge to donate $100 to charity for every lap he completes. The Home Depot and Target Chip Ganassi Racing will each richen the final number by matching Stewart's tally. With 600 total laps equaling a possible combined donation of $180,000, Stewart's competitive desire will be buoyed by his generosity.

The benefactor is The Victory Junction Gang Camp, a soon-to-be extension of the original Hole In The Wall Gang Camp founded for kids by Paul Newman. Winston Cup driver Kyle Petty and wife Pattie, well-known philanthropists who created the annual Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America in 1995, plan to build The Victory Junction Gang Camp in Randleman, N.C., as a tribute to their late son, Adam. Like The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp and its six other sister organizations, the Victory Junction Gang Camp will be a permanent, year-round center that will accommodate children with chronic and life-threatening diseases at no cost to the children or their families.

"A lot of thought and effort has gone into this deal, and I think that's pretty apparent by the charity aspect we've incorporated into the program," said Stewart. "Not only is Kyle a friend, but I believe in what he's doing. I wanted to help him, and this is a good way to do it. We'll generate a lot of money for his dream while I pursue mine - winning the Indy 500."

Stewart, the 1997 IRL champion, has four Indianapolis 500 starts to his credit, the most recent of which came in 1999. He drove a Home Depot-sponsored Dallara/Aurora IRL entry for Tri-Star Motorsports from his 24th starting spot to ninth, before jumping on a plane destined for Concord, N.C. With little time to spare upon his arrival at Concord Regional Airport, Stewart boarded a helicopter on loan to him from fellow Winston Cup driver Rusty Wallace and promptly flew to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Coca-Cola 600, touching down on the infield grass just 10 minutes prior to the call of, "Gentleman, start your engines."

Stewart finished the longest race on the Winston Cup schedule in fourth-place, after having to start at the back of the field for missing the mandatory driver's meeting. When the race finished, so too was Stewart. He had completed 1,090 racing miles in one day, becoming the only driver to finish the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 in the same day. He needed medical attention for dehydration and exhaustion. Upon gathering his senses a few moments later, Stewart said, "I'll never do that again."

Never say never.

-Home Depot Racing-

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About this article
Series IndyCar , NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Kyle Petty , Jimmy Vasser , Paul Newman , Chip Ganassi
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Joe Gibbs Racing