Stewart seemed to be taking an old-school path to the highest of U.S. open-wheel racing within the Nineties, profitable the USAC Nationwide Midget, Dash and Silver Crown titles in 1995 and becoming a member of the Menard staff for the newly created Indy Racing League in 1996. After scoring a second place on his debut in 1996, Stewart received the ’96/’97 championship, and completed third the next season.
His final Indy 500 got here in 2001, driving a Chip Ganassi Racing entry to sixth place, however by then Stewart’s most important focus was on his meteoric NASCAR Cup profession. He received the championship in 2002, ’05 and ’11 and retired from the collection in 2016 with 49 wins to his identify.
Stewart, who turns 50 this month, will likely be current at Indy to assist Foyt rejoice the 60th anniversary of his first win on the 500.
“A.J. is my hero, and an awesome pal whom I’ve recognized for a very long time,” mentioned Stewart [pictured above with Foyt at Texas Motor Speedway in 2008]. “It didn’t matter what it was, but when it had 4 wheels and went quick, A.J. would drive it. NASCAR inventory vehicles, USAC inventory vehicles, sprints and midgets, Indy vehicles, IMSA sports activities vehicles – A.J. received in all of them. We each sort of got here up by means of the racing ranks in the identical manner. He simply did it in a unique period.
“A.J. known as me after I received my first Cup championship in 2002 and I keep in mind how a lot it meant to have him name that evening and congratulate me. He has given rather a lot again to racing and has been one of many sport’s greatest supporters. With out guys like him, guys like myself wouldn’t have had an opportunity to succeed.
“Being with A.J. on the pit field this yr at Indy is an honor and one thing I’ll cherish perpetually.”
Foyt has 4 vehicles entered for this yr’s Indy 500 – the 2 for full-timers Sebastien Bourdais and Dalton Kellett, plus one for Charlie Kimball and one other for JR Hildebrand. The latter will run the #1 with a livery just like that on Foyt’s victorious Trevis-Offy from 1961.
“Tony and I’ve been good associates for a very long time, and I’m glad he’s in a position to come out for this 500,” mentioned four-time Indy winner Foyt, who first shared the stage with Stewart again in 1995 when presenting him together with his championship rings for profitable the USAC Triple Crown. Stewart was the primary driver to win the USAC Midget, Dash and Silver Crown titles in a single season, and just one driver, J.J. Yeley, has matched that feat.
“I’m hoping having Tony on the 500 would possibly change our luck! Usually, we run fairly good at Texas however the luck was fairly dangerous within the doubleheader. We received crashed within the first race and at the beginning of the second race, each vehicles received crashed – they by no means made it to the start-finish line.”
Stewart has lengthy mentioned that Foyt grew to become his hero after watching him within the 1982 Indy 500 when Foyt received out of his automobile and began engaged on it within the pits through the race. Final Sunday at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, the SHR’s #14 entry of Chase Briscoe carried a throwback paint scheme to Foyt’s #14 Copenhagen-sponsored inventory automobile from 1986.