sprint car racing

Tony Stewart making sprint car racing debut in New Zealand this weekend

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Tony Stewart is finally getting around to fulfilling a 20-year-old racing invitation.

The three-time Cup champion, now one year removed from his NASCAR racing career, is heading south of the equator to play in the New Zealand dirt.

Stewart will compete in three sprint car events over the next two weeks, two decades after his NASCAR and IndyCar careers kept him from racing in the country.

On Saturday, Stewart will compete in a Porter Hire International Sprintcar Series race at  Western Springs Speedway in Auckland, which has hosted racing since 1929. Then on Tuesday, he’ll be part of the series’ action at Robertson Holden International Speedway in Palmerson North. He’ll then make a return visit to Western Springs on Dec. 16.

 “The promoter at Western Springs was Willie Kay and he tried to get me to come over for the 1996-97 season but just timing-wise it didn’t work out,” Stewart told The New Zealand Herald. “After 1995 I got my first NASCAR ride and the same with an IndyCar drive so there was no way I was going to have the time to come back over.

“It has been a long time coming to get over here but we are pretty excited about the chance to come out.”

Stewart made his return to sprint racing in February following a nearly three-year hiatus. Stewart stepped away from the sport after an August 9, 2014 accident when Stewart’s car struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr. during an Empire Super Sprint Series race at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park.

Stewart earned his first win of the year in April in the United Sprint Car Series Spring Speed Xplosion finale at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Florida.

The co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing said there is “a lot of pressure” on him during his New Zealand tour. He’ll be racing the same 410-cubic inch winger car he races at home.

“I have seen a lot of videos of Western Springs – videos from this season even just so you have an idea of how the race track changes through the course of the evening,” Stewart told The Herald. “We are not coming here blind but until you get on each race track you really don’t know what to expect.”

The New Zealand tour will be another chapter in an already eventful offseason for Stewart, who got engaged on Thanksgiving.

Kyle Larson gets permission to race in Knoxville Nationals on Saturday night

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The night before he tries to defend his first career win in the NASCAR Cup Series, Kyle Larson will get the chance to win one of the biggest sprint car races of the year and his career.

Larson announced on Twitter he has received permission from Chip Ganassi Racing to compete in the main event of the 57th annual Knoxville Nationals in Iowa, which he said is the “Daytona 500 of sprint car racing.”

Larson won his A-Main race on Wednesday night, which qualified him for Saturday night’s race. It is the first time Larson has locked himself into the main event with a win. He will start ninth in the race.

“Winning the NASCAR championship this year is my main focus and my main goal but I’m also extremely happy that (owner) Chip (Ganassi) is allowing me to go back to Knoxville on Saturday and try to win a Knoxville Nationals championship as well,” Larson said. “To have the opportunity to go back and win that is very, very special to me. I can’t thank Chip enough for that.”

Ganassi himself also shared a video message on Twitter about the race.

“I’ve been hearing all of you the last few days, my phone and my Twitter account (are) blowing up,” Ganassi said. “I’ve been hearing all the comments. OK, OK, OK. We’re going to let him race at Knoxville!”

Larson said Friday at Michigan that he talked with to Ganassi about Knoxville on the way back from the reveal of Chevrolet’s 2018 Cup car.

“I didn’t know he was going to be in Detroit yesterday with us,” Larson said. “I rode back with him to the airport and we talked about it a little bit. He voiced his concerns about it, but I think more than me asking, I feel like Steve Lauletta (President, Chip Ganassi Racing) and John Olguin (Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications) at our race shop probably had the most impact probably on me being able to run, so, got to thank them, but ultimately, it’s all Chip’s decision. I know my fans really appreciate it. All my sprint car fans and NASCAR fans, so Chip is a hero today and this weekend.”

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver is third in the Cup Series standings and has won the last two Michigan races.

One reason Larson had to get permission to compete in Saturday night’s race is Ganassi has contractually allowed him to compete in 25 sprint car races this year. Wednesday’s race was supposed to be the 24th race the year. Saturday’s race won’t count toward the 25-race cap.

Larson said the deal with Ganassi also restricted him from driving a sprint or midget car the night before a Cup race.

He’s made his limited races count, at one point winning six races in a row.

“I’ve never been this good in a sprint car in my career,” Larson told the the Des Moines Register Wednesday night.

The question of whether Ganassi would give the 25-year-old driver the chance to race Saturday night was immediately raised.

“I hope he understands how important this event is to me,” Larson told Speed Sport. “I’d love to race on Saturday. Obviously, I know the Cup stuff is the No. 1 priority throughout the year. But this is a big deal, and I feel really fast.

Sunday’s Cup race doesn’t start until 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

 

Family updates status of Kevin Swindell after release from hospital

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A week ago a wreck in the Knoxville Nationals in Iowa landed sprint car driver Kevin Swindell in the hospital with back and spin injuries. A few days after undergoing successful surgery for one of two back fractures, he has been released from the hospital according to a release by the Swindell family.

The statement follows.


Des Moines, IA – Kevin has been released from Des Moines Mercy Hospital today after an eight-day stay at the hospital following last week’s accident at Knoxville Raceway.

The doctors and staff at Des Moines Mercy have been generous to us, both in their care for Kevin and their patience and understanding to all of us throughout our time here. We will forever be grateful to them.

We cannot begin to thank everyone in the racing community for the support that you’ve shown to Kevin. The thoughtfulness of all of you is seen and felt and we feel stronger each day because of you. Kevin feels the power of your prayers and they are working. Our motto is: God showed up and showed out!

We’re also grateful for the donations that have come in and the continued fundraisers that race fans, organizations and tracks have started to help Kevin. We know there is a long road ahead for him and the donations will help ease the burden of the medical expenses we’ll have and allow Kevin to focus solely on his health.

Bank of America has set up an account for donations to Kevin. If you’d like to make a donation or are getting questions of where someone can donate, the information is below.

To make a donation to Kevin’s Recovery Fund, please make check out to Kevin Swindell and write “Recovery Fund” on the memo line. Checks can be mailed to:

Kevin Swindell Recovery Fund
c/o Spire Sports + Entertainment
P.O. Box 638
Cornelius, NC 28031

If you’d prefer to wire funds, please call Spire Sports + Entertainment at 704-897-2880 for information on how to do so.

Donations can be made online at http://www.stevekingfoundation.org. Please be sure to type “Kevin Swindell Recovery Fund” in the comment section to ensure your donation goes to Kevin.

Again, from all of us, thank you.

Kevin, Sammy and Amy Swindell and Jordan Armstrong