Photo: Tony Stewart Racing

Tony Stewart makes return to sprint car racing

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Tony Stewart finished 17th Thursday night in the season-opening Arctic Cat All-Star Circuit of Champions sprint car series race at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Florida.

The race marked the first of what Stewart has said would be about 80 races he’ll run this year since he’s no longer driving in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. He’s not released a full schedule and had not announced where he’d make his return. A team spokesperson confirmed to NBC Sports that Stewart is scheduled to race with the series Friday and Saturday at Bubba Raceway Park.

Stewart explained last month his reasoning for being coy about his schedule.

“I think we’re just going to drop in for a while now,” Stewart said. “I like it on the nights that fans know we’re going because we get to see fans passionate about what we did on the Cup side, but at the same time, it makes it more hectic in the pit area to do our job, and right now, I just want to get back to driving the race cars again.

“We need to keep it simple for a while before we let everyone know where we’re going.”

Stewart started on the pole in his heat race and finished sixth Thursday. He started second and finished second in the B feature, advancing to the A feature. He started 20th in that race.

Stewart’s teammate, Donny Schatz won the A feature.

Stewart, who owns the series for 410 winged sprint cars, wasn’t the only driver with NASCAR experience in the event. Rico Abreu, who competed in the Camping World Truck Series last year, was 11th.

The race also marked the first time Stewart has competed in a sprint car since August 9, 2014, when his car struck Kevin Ward Jr. during an Empire Super Sprint Series race at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park. Ward died from the injuries he suffered. Stewart was cleared of any wrongdoing by a grand jury, but a lawsuit brought by Ward’s family remains in the court system. A mediation deadline was recently extended to April 21. 

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NASCAR on NBC podcast, Ep. 90: Roger Slack

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Eldora Speedway general manager Roger Slack joined the NASCAR on NBC podcast to discuss his track’s past, present and possible future with NASCAR.

Slack detailed the run-up to the initial “secret” test with Tony Stewart and Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon that led to scheduling a Camping World Truck Series race that recently completed its fifth edition.

Slack also discussed the storied history of Eldora, which opened in 1954 and was bought by Stewart 50 years later.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the AudioBoom embed below or download and subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts by clicking here. The free subscription will provide automatic downloads of new episodes to your smartphone.

It also is available on Stitcher by clicking here and also can be found on Google Play, Spotify and a host of other smartphone apps.

NASCAR America: How Daniel Suarez found out he was replacing Carl Edwards (video)

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On Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America, Daniel Suarez recalled the moment he got the call that he was being promoted to replace Carl Edwards in the NASCAR Cup Series at Joe Gibbs Racing.

Suarez was at dinner back home in Mexico with family and friends when JGR officials called and him to be ready for a teleconference in a few moments.

Suarez stepped away, telling his dinner partners he’d be back shortly — which ultimately lasted 40 minutes.

When he returned to the dinner table, he couldn’t tell anything about the phone call — JGR officials swore him to secrecy — but he eventually revealed that he had been promoted to the NASCAR Cup Series to replace Edwards, who had decided to take a hiatus from his racing career.

Check out the video above.

 

 

NASCAR America: What Joe Gibbs Racing teammates really think of each other (video)

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Daniel Suarez appeared on Wednesday’s live broadcast of NASCAR America from the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina,

One of the funniest segments of Suarez’s visit was a video and verbal collage of how much he and his fellow Joe Gibbs Racing teammates really think of each other — all in good humor, of course.

Check out the video above where Suarez, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch answer the “tough questions” about themselves, as well as how they feel about their fellow teammates.

NASCAR America: Daniel Suarez’s journey from Mexico and VW Beetles to NASCAR champion (video)

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In winning last year’s Xfinity Series championship, Mexican native Daniel Suarez became NASCAR’s first international champion.

It was the culmination of a journey that began with his father and, interestingly enough, Volkswagen Beetles.

Check out Suarez’s story and the thoughts about his success and prowess by our NASCAR America analysts in the video above.

Speaking of VW Beetles, Suarez’s father sold his restoration shop to fund his son’s racing dream. Years later, Daniel repaid his father by purchasing a new restoration shop for him. See the video below.