Checking in with 1997 INDYCAR Series Champion Tony Stewart
January 4, 2021
It’s Season No. 2 in 2022 for Pit Pass Indy as we speed ahead into the new year of IndyCar action.
Our special guest in the first episode of Season 2 is celebrating the 25th Anniversary of his INDYCAR SERIES championship. It’s 1997 Indy Racing League champion Tony Stewart. Before he went on to win three NASCAR Cup Series championships and become a Cup Series championship owner with Kevin Harvick in 2014, Stewart was an Indy car racing star.
In 1995, Stewart became the first driver in history to win all three United States Auto Club (USAC) National Championships in the same season when he won the Midget, Sprint, and Silver Crown series. That made him the perfect fit for a step up to the new Indy Racing League in 1996 as the original goal of that series was to promote grass roots, oval track drivers from the United States.
Stewart won the Indy Racing League championship in a 10-race season in 1997 that also included his first career INDYCAR victory at Pikes Peak International Raceway that season. He won two-more INDYCAR contests in 1998 with victories at Disney World and New Hampshire that season. Stewart finished third in the standings that year with Kenny Brack winning the championship and Davey Hamilton second.
Stewart traded in his Indy car for a NASCAR Cup Series car in 1999, setting a then-rookie record with three wins his first season. Stewart won Cup Series titles in 2002, 2006 and 2011. He retired from Cup Series racing as a driver following the 2016 season with 49 career wins. Stewart remains as one of NASCAR’s top Cup Series team owners and this year, started an NHRA drag racing team for his wife, Leah Pruett. He also owns one of the top grass roots operations in racing, Tony Stewart Racing.
Stewart continues to drive race cars around the country in various divisions at the grass-roots level.
Pit Pass Indy show host Bruce Martin interviewed Stewart at the famed “Yard of Bricks” at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on December 10, 2021.
For more INDYCAR coverage, follow Bruce Martin at Twitter at @BruceMartin_500
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