Tony Stewart returning to stock cars for COTA demonstration with Haas F1 drivers

by Justin Nguyen

Three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart is back in a stock car. Sort of.

On Monday, with NASCAR heading to Texas Motor Speedway and Formula One to the nearby Circuit of the Americas in the upcoming week, Stewart-Haas Racing announced its co-owner will return to stock car action in a demonstration at the latter on Thursday, 31 October. Haas F1 Team‘s Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen will also be in attendance, riding with Stewart in a passenger seat in his #14 Ford Mustang.

“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,” Stewart said in a team release. “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. I haven’t driven that racetrack and Kevin and Romain haven’t ever driven a stock car. We’ll figure it out together.”

Credit: Stewart-Haas Racing

It will be Stewart’s first time in a stock car since his final NASCAR race in the 2016 Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. From 1999 to 2016, he recorded forty-nine wins, 308 top-ten finishes, and titles in 2002, 2005, and 2011. In January 2020, he will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

“I’ve never driven a NASCAR before,” Magnussen said. Although he has spent much of his racing career in formula cars, he has dabbled in closed-wheel-and-roof vehicles like DTM.

“I’m pretty certain it’s going to be very different to the other car I drive around COTA. It’s going to be a very interesting experience. A NASCAR 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 think we just need to slam the brakes a bit earlier than we do with a Formula One car,” Grosjean commented.

“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.”

Stewart-Haas and Haas F1, both operated by Gene Haas, have enjoyed various collaborations between their drivers in the past. In 2018, Stewart – a dirt track racer by trade – helped Magnussen pilot his sprint car in an event that was featured in Netflix’s Drive to Survive series.

Circuit of the Americas, approximately a three-hour drive from Texas Motor Speedway, has never hosted a NASCAR race. Nevertheless, there have been rumours of the Austin-based track doing so, with COTA head Bobby Epstein expressing interest in 2017. While both circuits have clashed due to scheduling in the past, the two currently share an overlap in hosting the IndyCar Series and Stadium Super Trucks.

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