BROOKLYN, Mich. – Roger Penske’s desire to field a car for Tony Stewart in the Indianapolis 500 remains as strong as ever. But the offer that Penske made nearly six years ago to put the three-time NASCAR champion in one of his cars for May might be dependent on timing.
“One of the biggest dreams of my life would be to get Tony Stewart in one of our Indy 500 cars,” Penske said Sunday at Michigan International Speedway. “Obviously, we’ve got obligations now. We’ve got four cars running (next year) and to run a fifth would be pretty tough, but who knows over the next couple of years what happens. Just the fact that he would say he’d like to get in one was a real honor for me.”
Last Thursday, Stewart said he wants to run the Indy 500 for the first time since 2001, and possibly as early as next season, but he might be unable to take advantage of Penske’s invitation at the 2012 NASCAR Awards Ceremony (when he said during his championship speech that he wanted to help Stewart run the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 doubleheader).
Team Penske, which has 17 Indianapolis 500 victories, is slated to field Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, Josef Newgarden and Helio Castroneves in the race next year.
Stewart declined Penske’s offer in 2013, saying he didn’t have time to prepare adequately. The Columbus, Indiana, native said last week that he would want to run at least one IndyCar race before making his sixth start in the Indy 500.
Regardless of which team he is racing for, Penske said Stewart’s return to Indy would be big.
“He’s an icon in Indiana, an icon at Indianapolis, an icon in the sport,” he said. “To have Stewart out there, it would be something. A tremendous impact to IndyCar.
“I’d love to have him in a car but he knows it better than I do that timing is everything. To me, if there was a time that we could fit it in and work for him and work for us, he’d be the first guy I’d call.”