Tony Stewart is back! On Wednesday, the NASCAR legend announced he's returning to racing after retiring full-time at the end of the 2016 season. He will take part in the Indiana 250 on July 4, which is part of the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Stewart is currently the co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, where his focus has been since his retirement.
"Everyone knows what Indy means to me, so I can't think of a better place to race on Fourth of July weekend," Stewart, who grew up 45 minutes from Indianapolis in the towns of Columbus and Rushville, Indiana, said in a team release per NASCAR.com. "It's going to be cool making history by turning left and right in a stock car at the Brickyard, and the racing will be full of action and contact. Any time you can drive any race car at the speedway is special, and you know I’m going for the win. The date is already circled on my calendar."
The last time Stewart competed in an Xfinity race was in 2013 when he won the season opener at Daytona International Speedway. In his career, Stewart has won 11 Xfinity races, including seven in Daytona. While he had success with Xfinity races, fans remember Stewart for what he did in the Cup Series. The 48-year old won 49 races while winning the championship in 2002, 2005 and 2011. He was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in January.
"It’s surreal," Stewart said at the time per NASCAR.com. "You think of the sport being 70 years old and there's 55 guys in this Hall. I can think of 55 guys off the top of my head right now that deserve to be in here, I feel like more than me. It's truly an honor to be here. (Thursday) night's dinner with the guys that are already in the Hall, to have that intimate dinner with those guys just really put it in perspective. I felt like a little kid who was tagging along."
Stewart never won the Daytona 500 with his closest finish being in 2004 when he placed second. However, he did win the race as a co-owner in 2017 when Kurt Busch crossed the finished line first.
"If I knew I would retire and win the next race, I would have retired 17 years ago and got it that way," Stewart said after the 2017 Daytona 500 per ESPN. "It's a pretty cool deal. This is one that we've waited for for a long, long time."