Published June 23 2011
Dealing with racing adversity - like Wednesday's rainout - is nothing new for Tony Stewart
The two-time NASCAR champ was set to race Wednesday at the Red River Valley Speedway until the rain brought up the proverbial caution flag to bring things to a halt.
“It’s nice to have those days where you can show up wearing a sweatshirt and a pair of tennis shoes,” said Stewart, wearing a Red River Valley Speedway hooded sweatshirt.
Stewart will be racing in a Late Model tonight. On Wednesday, he stressed the importance of having fun and how he enjoys events like this. But don’t think that because he’s a NASCAR superstar with wins at some of the world’s most challenging tracks that this is going to be a breeze.
This isn’t like the paved tracks that Stewart has become familiar with, whether it be through years of racing or days of tests and practice laps. No, he’s going up against area racers that know this track far better than he does.
“You get a two or three-lap practice session and I’m able to get a feel for what I like or dislike with the car,” Stewart said. “But you have the heat race to work on things … and you hope you can have the car where you want it to be.”
Speaking of the race car, it’s not like Stewart hauls one around to every dirt track in which he races. Stewart said he does about 20-25 dirt track races in a summer.
Track organizer Donny Schatz, who drives for Stewart on the World of Outlaws, was able to help Stewart get set up with a car for the event.
So there you go. Crisis averted.
“It’s been taken care of to make sure he has the right springs and right shocks on his car,” Schatz said. “With him being as good a driver as he is, he can adapt to any car at any time. He’s not worried at all.”
Those are the adjustments Stewart has to worry about. But what about the rest of the drivers who will be going against him?
Rain was the biggest reason why the race got pushed back, but so were the conditions in pit lane, Schatz said.
“Getting trucks parked in and out, making sure we don’t tear up start, that’s not going to be the easy part,” Schatz said.
The track, however, is OK. At first glance, it didn’t appear that way in some parts. The track had large puddles in the inner lanes near the infield.
But the rest of the track appeared to be fine, with the high banks at each turn looking as if they’ve handled the rain with ease.
Stewart raced at RRVS for two dates last summer, once in a Late Model and once in a Sprint car. Stewart finished in third place in the Late Model feature and got a flat in the Sprint car feature and didn’t finish that race.
“They changed the surface from last year and made what was a good place to race probably a better place to race,” Stewart said. “Last year, the track was one grade all the way through and it was good racing. But this year, the shape of it is different.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan S. Clark at (701) 241-5548.
Clark’s Force blog can be found at slightlychilled.areavoices.com