TERRE HAUTE —
You’re familiar with NASCAR driver Tony Stewart, aren’t you?
You know, the hard charger who captured Sprint Cup championships in 2002, 2005 and 2011? The Columbus native who won the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard in Indianapolis in 2005 and 2007? The guy that his fans affectionately call “Smoke”?
The guy who frequently raced — and won — at the Terre Haute Action Track as a young driver in the 1990s?
Yeah, that guy.
Well, he’ll be driving a UMP Modified car tonight at the Action Track as part of “First Financial Bank Tony Stewart Night with Kenny Wallace.”
In addition to the UMP Modifieds, drivers from the Hoosier Tire Midwest Sprint Car Series (MSCS) will make an appearance on the half-mile dirt oval.
The ticket office and gates will open at 4 p.m., with hot laps starting at 6:30 and racing at 7. Admission is $25 for grandstand seating, $15 for infield and free for children 10 and under. The MSCS 30-lap feature will pay $2,000 to win and the UMP Modifieds’ 15-lap feature — which includes Stewart and Wallace — will pay $700 to win.
Action Track promoter Bob Sargent said the 41-year-old Stewart, who won Sprint Cup races March 11 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and March 25 at the Auto Club Speedway in Califiornia and finished second behind Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the Quicken Loans 400 Sunday at Brooklyn, Mich., will be driving his own No. 14 UMP Modified tonight.
“It’s very significant that we have Tony coming here,” emphasized Sargent, who believes the last time Stewart raced in Terre Haute was 2002. “He’s one of the hottest drivers in the world right now. It means a lot to us.”
“Anytime I can get on a race track with Tony, I’m excited, especially at a legendary track like Terre Haute,” Wallace told the Tribune-Star in a phone interview Monday. “We’re going to have our work cut out for us.”
An avid Twitter member, Wallace tweeted Monday that he and Stewart would be coming to Terre Haute to race, which prompted a response from NASCAR legend Darrell “DW” Waltrip.
Waltrip tweeted back to Wallace: “KW, that race track is legendary. I went there as a kid to watch A.J. Foyt, Bobby Marshman, Parnelli [Jones], Mario [Andretti], all the greats!”
Wallace, 48, said he’ll likely be “a bundle of nerves” tonight because he’ll be the first driver ever to navigate a Toyota dirt modified car in a race.
Competing on a limited basis in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this year, Wallace ranks 21st in the point standings with 150. He finished seventh in that series in 2011.
On the 2012 Sprint Cup circuit, Wallace is tied for 52nd in points. Meanwhile, Stewart ranks eighth with 491. So far, Stewart has earned $3,153,810 in Sprint Cup winnings this year, according to nascar.com.
Also worth watching tonight, any MSCS driver who can put back-to-back wins together in that series would earn $5,000. The last driver to win consecutive MSCS races was Jon Stanbrough, who did it twice during the last half of the 2010 season.
Before Sunday’s MSCS card at Haubstadt, the series had conducted four features in 2012 and four different winners had emerged — Robert Ballou, Thomas Meseraull, Hunter Schuerenberg and Stanbrough. Ballou’s victory came at Terre Haute to start the season.
For more information on tonight’s card, call the Action Track office at (812) 232-4040 or visit its website at www.terrehauteactiontrack.net.
‘Smoke’ at a glance
Sources: www.tonystewart.com and nascar.com
Birthplace — Columbus.
Residence — Columbus and Mooresville, N.C.
Age — 41.
Marital status — Single.
Children — None.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships — 2002, 2005 and 2011.
IRL IndyCar Series championship — 1997.
Rookie of the Year awards — U.S. Auto Club (1991), Indianapolis 500 (1996) and NASCAR Sprint Cup (1999).
2012 Sprint Cup money winnings (through Sunday) — $3,153,810.
2012 Sprint Cup points ranking (through Sunday) — Eighth with 491.