CONCORD, N.C. – Tony Stewart won’t be disclosing where he will be racing more than 80 times this year, but you can expect to see Ford colors at whatever short track he appears.
Stewart and Ford Performance officials confirmed Wednesday that his open-wheel teams likely will have some support from the manufacturer, which is supporting Stewart-Haas Racing in NASCAR beginning this season.
Tony Stewart Racing previously had support from Chevrolet (even during the 2008 season when Stewart drove a Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing), and the three-time NASCAR champion is expecting a similar alignment with Ford with his sprint car teams.
TSR’s sprint cars were both Chevrolet-powered and Chevrolet-branded a decade ago, and it’s expected Ford would power TSR sprint cars this year and possibly provide some level of sponsor support, too.
“We’re working on that right now,” Stewart said. “I think that’s going to happen. It’s nice to tie it together and with the development of the (NASCAR) program, it’s an opportunity.”
With Ford expanding its driver development programs, Stewart said TSR could be a proving ground for the manufacturer.
“It’s a place where we might be able to help with that as well and help bring some guys in to try them out,” Stewart said with a laugh, adding, “Maybe they can develop me.”
Stewart hasn’t raced on dirt in more than two years, but he likely will return somewhere soon. He isn’t tipping his hand, though, because his appearance tends to be a distraction.
“I think we’re just going to drop in for a while now,” he 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 used to driving the race cars again.
“We need to keep it simple for a while before we let everyone know where we’re going.”
The short-track schedule won’t curtail Stewart’s presence much at NASCAR races as a co-owner. He said he is planning to miss only a couple Cup races.
“As far as whether I’ll be there all three days of a weekend, I doubt I’ll be at all three days,” he said. “Early in the season I will for sure. Probably until we get to mid-April, I’ll most likely be at the track every day.”
So does that mean he misses preparing for the Daytona 500 as a driver?
“Are you kidding me? You know the answer to that already,” he said. “No, I’m not missing it.”