Why Tony Stewart Says There’s ‘Zero Chance’ He’d Give the Daytona 500 One More Shot
Tony Stewart has a list of accomplishments that would put him in the discussion of most versatile—if not the most competitive—racers of all time.
Stewart, 51, has won three championships in NASCAR, a championship in Indy cars. He's a member of both the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame. This year, he's competing full time in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing series chasing a Top Alcohol championship for McPhillips Racing in straight-line racing for the first time.
You get the picture.
One of the few boxes Stewart has not checked in his career, however, is a win in the Daytona 500. He won four summer NASCAR Cup Series at the Daytona International Speedway, but never the Great American Race that traditionally kicks off the season.
This year, Stewart was in the FOX TV booth when another seemingly ageless champion, 47-year-old Jimmie Johnson, came back to race in the 500. Stewart, while he marveled at Johnson and enjoyed watching guys from other racing disciplines like Travis Pastrana and Conor Daly take on the race in a one-off, says his days chasing a Daytona 500 win are long past.
Stewart's last Daytona 500 as a driver came in 2015 when he crashed out just 72 laps into the race on his way to a disappointing 42nd-place finish.
Would Stewart consider a one-off at Daytona for a little redemption and one more chance at the Harley J. Earl Trophy?
"I think it's a very logical question, especially with Jimmie coming back," Stewart said during an NHRA zoom media conference on Tuesday. "But for me, that ship has sailed. We talked about maybe trying to do the Bristol dirt race since I guess deep down inside I'm first a Sprint Car and dirt-track driver before anything else. But again, if it's a one off race here or there, what does that do to the rest of the schedule and and is it worth it?
"I can tell you this—I have zero interest in going and run on a Daytona 500. I respect the history of that event. I respect the sport."
Stewart also respects how the Daytona 500 has changed. The TV booth is close enough to the action for him.
"Joey Logano said it best—you got a 30% chance of finishing that race," Stewart said. "I'm not going for the 30% chance. If I go, it's because I want to feel like I've got a shot to win the race and not a 70% chance that I'm gonna get caught up in a wreck that may or may not be of my own doing.
"As much as I love the Daytona 500—and I haven't checked it off the list with a win—I've kind of just come to terms with how I'm okay with that now after watching the last five or six years of restrictor-plate racing."