Cup

Tony Stewart returns to victory lane in a dirt sprint car

Tony Stewart returns to victory lane in a dirt sprint car

Three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart is back to his winning ways in dirt sprint cars.PHOTO BY LAT PHOTOGRAPHIC

THE THREE-TIME NASCAR CHAMPION WON ON SATURDAY AT BUBBA RACEWAY PARK

AUTOWEEK

Despite retiring from NASCAR at the end of last season, Tony Stewart finally found himself back in victory lane as a driver, earning his first victory since returning to dirt sprint car racing for the 2017 season.

The triumph came in the United Sprint Car Series Spring Xplosion at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Florida. The feature race was 33 laps in honor of veteran grassroots racer Dave Steele, who passed away in a sprint car race in Florida last weekend.

Stewart had struggled in his first couple of starts this season and even recused himself from competing in the All Star Circuit of Champions tour that he owns. He struggled in his first couple of starts but cited a decision to focus on management of the circuit.

“This is our eighth night this year we’ve run, and the first seven we haven’t been very stellar,” Stewart told series announcer Wesley Outland after winning on Saturday night. “But it’s just been a while since I’ve been in a car. We’ve been fighting trying to figure out what these tires want. The setup we ran here the last time doesn’t work anymore.

“We’ve run seven races and haven’t gotten close to where it feels right. Tonight we hit on something in the heat race and started 10th in the main, about 10 laps into it, started finding some stuff that was working.”

This was the Rushville Rocket’s first win on the Outlaw Thunder Tour. He won after passing Danny Martin Jr. on the 19th lap and won over a field of 27 drivers.

He will be at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday in support of the Stewart-Haas Racing team he owns with Gene Haas.

“I get the best of both worlds now,” he said. “I still am a car owner on the Cup side, but this weekend, we were here Friday and Saturday night, and as soon as I get done with this interview, I’m changing clothes and flying to Martinsville late tonight.

“My schedule is actually busier now than what it was when I was running the Cup side, but I get the best of both worlds. I get to do the NASCAR side and still get to do what I love to do running the dirt cars again.”

Fellow former Cup stars Kenny Wallace and Kenny Schrader also won on the dirt in Farmer City and Oklahoma respectively.