28 Oct 2019
Three-time NASCAR Cup series champion Tony Stewart will return to the cockpit at this weekend’s United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
The 2020 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee is a co-owner of the Stewart-Haas NASCAR team along with machine tools magnate Gene Haas, who also runs the Haas F1 team.
Stewart hasn’t driven a NASCAR car since he retired at the end of the 2016 season, but he has continued to compete in sprint car races as well as running the multi-championship-winning team that bears his name. His run at COTA will also be the first time a NASCAR Cup car has run at the track which was specially built for F1.
“It’s kind of hard to believe that it’s been three years since I last drove a stock car, but seeing some of these road-course races – especially the Roval at Charlotte – have piqued my interest a bit, so this is a good way to sort of satisfy that hunger,” said Stewart. “I’ve never been to COTA. All I know about it is what I’ve seen on TV and on my iRacing simulator. I kind of like that. Even after two decades in NASCAR, there’s still new stuff to experience.”
Stewart will give passenger rides to Haas F1 team drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnessen during the weekend and both drivers will also have the chance to get behind the wheel.
“I think we just need to slam the brakes a bit earlier than we do with a Formula One car,” Grosjean said. “We’ll see how the engine responds to throttle application. I can’t wait. The sound of it’s going to be great. I think it’s going to be a good experience. I think having Tony Stewart helping us and giving us advice is going to be bloody amazing.”
Like Grosjean, Magnussen also hasn’t driven a NASCAR car before, but he did test a sprint car last year.
I’ve never driven a NASCAR before. I’m pretty certain it’s going to be very different to the other car I drive around COTA,” said the Dane, whose father Jan Magnussen made a single NASCAR start in 2010. “It’s going to be a very interesting experience. A NASCAR [car] is such an iconic racecar. I’ve always been eager to try one. Of course, it’s usually in its element on an oval, but they do race on road courses, as well. It’ll be interesting to have a go and have a bit of fun.”
“I found my feet in that sprint car last October pretty quickly thanks to his advice, and also thanks to him jumping in the car and showing how it’s done before I got in,” he added. “I had a great time with Tony. He’s a great driving instructor and he knows his way around these things. His experience and knowledge when it comes to stock cars is probably just as impressive.”
Following NASCAR runs at COTA, Stewart will take a short flight north to Fort Worth where he will oversee his NASCAR Cup series operation. Later that evening he will compete in another sprint car event, capping off a busy weekend for the 62-time NASCAR winner.