FORT WORTH, Texas (October 10, 2018) – The following is an event Rapid Recap from the Tony Stewart “Smoke Show” fantasy camp that took place Wednesday at Texas Motor Speedway. For downloading or viewing b-roll and sound bites from Stewart as well as photos from the event, please click https://goo.gl/knMc7W .
Stewart returned to Texas Motor Speedway for the 11th edition of the “Smoke Show” fantasy camp that annually benefits the Texas Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities. The event recreates a NASCAR race day with campers not only driving Team Texas stock cars in competitive on-track sessions but everything from start to finish. The guests also take part in pre-race activities such as a driver’s meeting, parade laps and introductions to celebrating in Victory Lane with the Smith & Wesson Classic 29 handguns, Justin cowboy hat and AAA Texas 500 trophy just like the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race winner.
One of the highlights of the day is the thrilling, two-seater ride that the three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion provides to each one of the campers during the event.
Stewart played host to 16 individuals for the camp, with some traveling as far as Oregon, New Jersey and Wisconsin to participate in the charity event that has raised more than $1.6 million for Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas from the previous 10 events. It is the highest-grossing, single-day event that SCC-Texas puts on to support children’s organizations in the Tarrant, Denton, Dallas and Collin counties of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.
“It’s fun and some of these people that have been here year after year are friends of ours now and we’re meeting new people every year as well, but the end result of it at the end of the day is that we’ve raised a lot of money for charity doing this,” Stewart said. “We have a great time and then at the end of the day, the icing on the cake is we raised a lot of money for a great charity.”
Stewart and his Stewart-Haas organization return to Texas Motor Speedway Nov. 1-4 for the AAA Texas 500 NASCAR Playoffs tripleheader weekend.
Stewart honored two military veterans by having them as his personal guests Thursday to take part in the “Smoke Show.”
Texas Motor Speedway worked with Folds of Honor to identify to service members who were disabled while serving our nation to enjoy this unique experience. The two chosen were Russell Brevick, of nearby Argyle, Texas, and Kris Morgan, of Oklahoma City.
Brevick was a captain in the United States Air Force before medically retiring in 2013. He served on the General’s staff as a missions analyst and wartime plans during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. He also served as a military training officer and led 95 cadets through the four-year program to fulfill their commissions.
“It’s like the parents got to see the kids look under the Christmas tree,” Brevick said of this experience. “We didn’t expect any of this stuff. This is our firesuit. It’s got my name on it. I was stoked. Then getting the experience of getting behind the wheel and going that fast; that was the awesome thing. Then having Tony drive 40 miles per hour faster, that’s something different there.”
Morgan also was a member of the United States Air Force before his military career was cut short due to serious injuries he sustained during Operation Desert Shield in 1997. He now spends a majority of his time assisting local non-profits and has a passion for building wooden American flags that he gives to veterans across the country.
“I knew we were going to get to drive the car, but being a NASCAR fan, I’ve been to NASCAR races, and I never once in my life thought I’d have this opportunity.” Morgan said. “It wasn’t even on my bucket list.”
Added Stewart: “I guarantee they’re tougher than I am, so if you can do anything that’s going to impress them that’s going to be half the battle,” Stewart said. “To have some real heroes with us this week, that’s something I’m pretty excited about. It’s guys like these two, that give us the opportunity to do what we do on the weekends and give us all the flexibility and freedoms that we have in this country so to be able to have two of them as guests and get them in the race cars is going to be a lot of fun.”
Stewart, who retired from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2016, said he has no plan to come back in that series, but remains interested in a possible return to the Indianapolis 500 in the near future.
He already has a proposed plan in place to prepare for a return to an open-wheel cockpit and be competitive for that marquee race. Stewart, 47, said he would run the Verizon IndyCar Series race at Pocono Raceway the year prior to his return to the Indy 500 to get reacquainted with the equipment. With that timeframe, the earliest he would return for the Indy 500 would be 2020.
“Pocono is what we had kind of figured was the best scenario because that’s kind of the same package that you run at the speedway so if we were going to do it, you’d probably see us run Pocono the year before.,” Stewart said. “…That way when May came around, I’d at least be up to speed not trying to learn a whole race car again and a whole new system all over.”
The key piece to this puzzle is that if he plans to do it he wants to be competitive with a realistic shot at the Borg Warner Trophy.
“I don’t want to do like Danica Patrick. I don’t want to be a sideshow at the 500,” Stewart said. “If I do it, I want to do it because I want to feel like that I legitimately have a shot [to win] when I show up on the first day. I want to feel like I have a shot to win the race. Those guys are so competitive in that series right now, you aren’t going to show up like you could 20 years ago and jump in a car and go out there and be up to speed with those guys. They are on top of their game.”
To assist in that need to be competitive, it appears that he would have his choice of top-tier Verizon IndyCar Series organizations.
“I actually talked to somebody from Rahal Letterman (Lanigan) yesterday so I don’t know,” Stewart said. “We’re talking about it and it’s not necessarily who we’d be doing it with. I mean we’ve talked to Andretti. We’ve talked to, obviously, Penske. I still got an open offer with him which is pretty cool and I think Chip (Ganassi) would want me to come back and do it again with him if we had the opportunity.”
Stewart, who won an INDYCAR series title in 1997, has made five Indianapolis 500 starts with a career-best finish of fifth that same year. His last Indy 500 start came in 2001.
Stewart-Haas Racing, co-owned by Stewart and Gene Haas, is in the midst of one of its most successful seasons as an organization.
For the first time in the organization’s history that was formed with the addition of Stewart as a co-owner in 2009, Stewart-Haas Racing qualified all four of its drivers for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.
Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer and Aric Almirola earned playoff berths and have extended their post-season hopes with the foursome advancing from the opening Round of 16 to the Round of 12. The Ford-powered organization also has combined to win 10 races, with Harvick leading the way with seven. Bowyer has two wins on the season and Busch added the other.
Stewart-Haas Racing is chasing its first Cup crown since Harvick in 2014 and third overall with the other coming from Stewart in ’11. Stewart would love to see all four battle it out in the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, Nov. 18.
“Still when it comes down to that championship day, if you’ve just got one of the four in there that’s an accomplishment,” Stewart said. “You know, but I think the way we’re looking at it this year is I’d love to have all four of them in there. I mean if that happens, I think I’d officially retire from all of NASCAR at the end of the year because I don’t know how’d you’d top that. What the organization has done this year, I mean the records that we have internally set this year has been remarkable. I mean it’s not been one or two, it’s been seven or eight time this year that we’ve broke a record for the organization and they’ve broke the same record over and over a couple times this year.”
What They Are Saying
”I’m good, I’m good, trust me. I’ll get my feel today. There’s a couple tracks that every time they come up, Sonoma is one of them and Richmond is one of them, that every time I go to it, I’m like ‘man if one of those guys got sick today, I’d be more than willing to step in with no practice, it’d be fun.’ I’m enjoying what I’m doing. I’ve ran 70 Sprint Car races, or around 70 this year. I think we’re over that actually, but I’m having fun doing what I’m doing now and still get to go on Sundays and race days with these guys and watch them be nervous on race day.” – Stewart on ever returning in the future to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
“Yeah, but by then I’ll be 49 and that’s pretty late to be trying to resurrect an INDYCAR career, I think. Yeah, but I like to eat too much and those guys are skinny. Skinny guys…very, very skinny guys.” – Stewart on the possibility of him running the 2020 Indianapolis 500.
“I think when you look at all four drivers, I mean obviously Kevin’s a guy you expect him to be in that final four, but you know, we see how easy that can change and this weekend’s was one of those races that you got to get through here pretty clean or else you’re in a do-or-die situation the following week. You know on paper what should happen, but then when you put 40 of them (drivers) out there together, you know what can happen and how different it can be from what the paper says it should be. As much as we know what we would like to happen, there’s just way too many variables that you can’t control. ” – Stewart on the prospects on his organization’s four drivers advancing to the Championship 4 of the NASCAR Playoffs.
“You never know until you get anything out on the race track, obviously, but you know the year and three quarters that we’ve been with Ford, I mean I’ve been impressed with their dedication and how hard they work to make sure that everything is where it needs to be. I think this Mustang will be right on par with where it needs to be right out of the box. I mean, I’ll be surprised if it’s not good right out of the box. “ – Stewart on Ford’s 2019 debut of the Mustang in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
“I’m telling you, I’ve told people that ever since I started working with him. I mean even when he was still at RCR (Richard Childress Racing), I felt like he was probably one of the most well-rounded drivers in the field, if not the most well-rounded driver. He knows every aspect of it; he knows what it’s like to be an owner; how to organize people; how to build packages; that and how he works with sponsors. He’s really the total package and that’s something that makes him so successful. He knows when to push; he knows when things aren’t right to not overdrive. He just knows how to put himself in the right positions at the right times and how to keep him there.” – Stewart on some of the characteristics that make Stewart-Haas driver Kevin Harvick successful.
“Oh yeah, no doubt, absolutely. He’s one of those guys that when he gets a taste of success he wants more of it, so it ends up being a feeding frenzy. You know once you win once, you just want to win more and more, and every time you win you just want to win more. That’s why I say he’s just got such a good balance, not only on track, but off track. I mean his life is balanced right now. He’s just one of those guys that’s got everything going the right way both on and off the race track and it just makes him that much better when he is on track.” – Stewart on Harvick still being hungry to succeed at age 42 and chase his second Cup title.
Upcoming Event At A Glance
AAA Texas 500 NASCAR Playoffs tripleheader – Nov. 1-4
Note: Media credential deadline for the AAA Texas 500 race weekend is Friday, Oct. 19. To apply for credentials, please visit www.smicredentials.com.
Legend: MENCS – Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series; NXS – NASCAR Xfinity Series; NCWTS – NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Saturday, Oct. 27
8 a.m. West Side Unreserved Camping Open
8 a.m. VIP & Outside Camping Open
Tuesday, October 30
9 a.m.–5 p.m. Texas Motor Speedway Credential Office Open
Wednesday, October 31
9 a.m.–5 p.m. Texas Motor Speedway Credential Office Open
10:00 a.m. Reserved Infield Camping Open
Thursday, November 1
9 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Texas Motor Speedway Credential Office Open
11 a.m.–1 p.m. NCWTS Haulers Enter
12 p.m.–5:30 p.m. NASCAR Credentials Open
1–7 p.m. NCWTS Garage Open
3 p.m. Gate 4 Open
3:05–3:55 p.m. NCWTS JAG Metals 350 1st Practice
5:05–5:55 p.m. NCWTS JAG Metals 350 Final Practice
6–8 p.m. MENCS Haulers Enter
Friday, November 2
8:30–11:30 a.m. NXS Haulers Enter
9 a.m.–7:30 p.m. Texas Motor Speedway Credential Office Open
9 a.m.–7:30 p.m. NASCAR Credentials Open
10 a.m.–7:30 p.m. MENCS Garage Open
10:30 a.m. NCWTS Garage Open
11 a.m.–7:30 p.m. NXS Garage Open
12:45 p.m. Gate 4 Open
1–1:55 p.m. MENCS AAA Texas 500 1st Practice
2:05–2:50 p.m. NXS O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 1st Practice
3:10 p.m. NCWTS JAG Metals 350 Qualifying
4:35–5:25 p.m. NXS O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 Final Practice
6 p.m. MENCS AAA Texas 500 Qualifying
7:30 p.m. NCWTS JAG Metals 350 (147 Laps, 220.5 Miles)
Saturday, November 3
9 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Texas Motor Speedway Credential Office Open
9 a.m.–3:30 p.m. NASCAR Credentials Open
10 a.m. Gates, suites open
10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. MENCS Garage Open
11:30 a.m.–12:25 p.m. MENCS AAA Texas 500 2nd Practice
12:40 p.m. NXS O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 Qualifying
2 p.m.–2:50 p.m. MENCS AAA Texas 500 Final Practice
3:30 p.m. NXS O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 (200 Laps/300 Miles)
Sunday, November 4
8:30 a.m. MENCS Garage Opens
8:30 a.m.–2 p.m. NASCAR Credentials Open
8:30 a.m.–2 p.m. Texas Motor Speedway Credential Office Open
10 a.m. Gates, suites open
2 p.m. MENCS AAA Texas 500 (334 Laps/501 Miles)