Atlanta, April 8, 1999 - Home Depot to Support Stewart in Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 The Home Depot, the world's largest home improvement retailer, today announced its sponsorship of the Indy car team co-owned by driver Tony Stewart and...
Atlanta, April 8, 1999 - Home Depot to Support Stewart in Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 The Home Depot, the world's largest home improvement retailer, today announced its sponsorship of the Indy car team co-owned by driver Tony Stewart and race engineer Larry Curry that will run in the 83rd Indianapolis 500. This one-race arrangement is in addition to Home Depot's sponsorship of the #20 Pontiac driven by Stewart in NASCAR's Winston Cup Series.
"Home Depot's sponsorship of Tony's run in the Indianapolis 500 is a tremendous opportunity to gain additional exposure for Home Depot in cities across North America. It's just one more race on our motorsports calendar but it's the granddaddy of them all," said Dick Sullivan, senior vice president of advertising for The Home Depot. "The value of helping Tony compete in two premier race events the same day coupled with the benefits of additional marketing and promotional activity is a package that doesn't come across our desk every day."
Stewart's Memorial Day weekend bid on May 30 includes racing in the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the day and traveling to Charlotte, N.C., for NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 that evening.
Stewart will be the third driver to attempt to run both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. However, Stewart hopes to make history by completing all 1,100 miles. John Andretti ran both races in 1994 but a wreck at Charlotte Motor Speedway ended his day on lap 220. Robby Gordon was set for the dual performance in 1997, but rain forced officials at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to postpone the running of the Indy 500 for two days.
"I grew up in Indiana and the Indy 500 is in my blood," said Stewart. "Winning Indy has been a dream for me since I first went to the Speedway with my Dad when I was five years old. It means the world to me to have Home Depot behind me on this one. We make a good team in Winston Cup; we'll make a good team at Indy."
Stewart explained that the schedule will be grueling during May, but added, "I'm ready for it. I've been preparing for the travel and the demands - both mentally and physically. It's a rare opportunity and I'm grateful for the support of my two teams, my family and all of the associates at Home Depot. We're going for the record!"
An accomplished open-wheel racer, Stewart drove three seasons in the Indy Racing League (IRL), winning the series' championship in 1997. He debuted on the front row in the 1996 Indianapolis 500, the same year he won Rookie of the Year honors, but engine problems caused him to bow out early after leading for 44 laps. He was back on the front row again in 1997 and this time recorded his best Indy 500 finish, ending fifth after leading 64 laps. In 1998, Stewart started fourth on the grid, but again, engine problems forced him to drop out of the race on the 22nd lap.
Stewart is partnering with Curry, his former IRL crew chief, to field the orange and white Home Depot Indy car. Together, Stewart and Curry logged three wins, nine poles and 10 top-five finishes in their three years together in the IRL. An expert mechanic, Curry joined the Indy car ranks in 1975 and has guided such drivers as Al Unser, John Andretti, Tom Sneva, Eddie Cheever and Roberto Guerrero during his 25 years in major league auto racing. In 1997, Curry directed the winning efforts of Stewart that earned the team the IRL title.
In 1999, Stewart moved to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series full-time as driver of the #20 Home Depot Pontiac for Joe Gibbs Racing. Stewart, six races into his rookie season, sat on the front row of the Daytona 500 in February and scored back-to-back sixth-place finishes at Darlington and Texas in March. He currently is the front runner in the NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year competition. Stewart's contract with Gibbs allows him to race in the Indianapolis 500.