Tony Stewart knows a thing or two about IndyCar, winning a championship in that series. He knows a thing or two about NASCAR, winning three Cup titles and becoming a successful owner at Stewart-Haas Racing.
To Stewart, the only driver to have won championships in each series, a doubleheader weekend featuring a NASCAR Cup race and an IndyCar race would be a must-see event for racing fans.
And Texas Motor Speedway would be the ideal venue to host such a spectacle.
“This would be the perfect place to do it,” said Stewart, who hosted his 12th annual ‘Smoke Show’ at TMS on Wednesday.
“I think it’d be really cool. It’d be a weekend on my calendar that I’d make sure I would be at.”
Talk of a doubleheader weekend resurfaced late last month when IndyCar star Josef Newgarden ran around the 17-turn, road course at Charlotte Motor Speedway with executives from NASCAR and IndyCar on hand.
TMS president Eddie Gossage would love to see it happen, especially at his track. Texas has been a staple for IndyCar and NASCAR since it hosted its first race in 1997.
“We would love to do a doubleheader,” Gossage said. “I don’t know that many people who could pull that off, but there’s no question we could pull that one off. We’ve made sure both IndyCar and NASCAR know about it.
“I don’t get any sense that it’s a real priority for either right now. When and if the conversation is had, we’ll be in the conversation. Whether it turns out that way? I don’t know.
“We’ve been very successful in both Cup and IndyCar for a long time. Hopefully if it happens anywhere, it would happen here. But I don’t see it anytime in the near future.”
With NASCAR and IndyCar both wanting to generate buzz and excitement for auto racing, it seems like a marriage that would benefit all.
Stewart, of course, served as the voice of reason as to why this type of event usually never gets past the talking stage. It sounds great until the decision-makers get involved.
“There’s too many egos involved. That’s why it hasn’t happened in motorsports,” Stewart said. “When I say egos, the egos in IndyCar and the egos in NASCAR wanting to be the trump card in the deal. If they can let their egos down and think about what the fans like versus what they think, there’s a possibility you could have a really, really cool weekend here.”
Yes, if each series wanted to make it work, it could work. But don’t hold your breath.
NASCAR is the same sports organization that scheduled a race in Texas the same weekend as the Final Four in 2014, and for years gave Texas a fall date that coincided with the start of deer hunting season.
There would be other logistical issues such as finding the right date and different tire compounds that each series leaves on the track. But those would become minutiae in the big picture.
As Stewart put it, “Man, I think that’s about as big of a kick-ass weekend you could ever ask for in motorsports.”
Most fans, starting with Gossage, would agree. TMS would be a ready and willing host for such an event.
Gossage went on to say that an oval track such as Texas is where that type of race weekend belongs too.
“I think that the road racing is great in Cup and it’s part of the DNA of IndyCars today,” Gossage said. “But, all in all, American motorsports is oval track racing. The best stage that we can offer them is on the oval.
“We know the IndyCars here are breathtaking. As this track ages and the asphalt gets older, we’ve really yet to see what the Cup cars can do on the re-configured oval.”
Stewart joked that he still can’t spell ‘philanthropist,’ but that’s a fitting label for the money he’s generated for the Texas chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities through the ‘Smoke Show.’
Stewart’s impact has not gone unnoticed by TMS officials. Gossage is always grateful that Stewart carves out time for the event. Plus, Stewart remains a popular figure among racing fans even though he retired from NASCAR driving following the 2016 season.
“It’s like he never quit driving. His appeal is huge,” Gossage said. “I think he could still have a souvenir rig out here at the NASCAR races and they’d still buy a Tony Stewart T-shirt.”
This story was originally published October 10, 2019 5:00 AM.