Stewart's packed 2017 racing schedule is taking shape

For Tony Stewart, life after NASCAR racing is starting to take shape — starting next month with the Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions.

Stewart's packed 2017 racing schedule is taking shape
Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing
2016 Champion and race winner Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing
Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing
Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing
Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing

Stewart told Motorsport.com that the first of his 70-plus race schedule will kick off at Bubba Raceway Park on Feb. 9-11 in Ocala, Fla. If all goes according to plan, Stewart will join the series the following week at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla.

“I will be (at Volusia) but if I don’t run, Christopher Bell will run the car.” said Stewart following a press conference at Ford Performance Center in Concord, N.C. “It just depends on how I do and how I feel after running Ocala.

“Volusia is the fastest half-mile. The track record is a 12.5 (seconds). So, it’s pretty giddy-up. I don’t know if ‘A’ I’m in shape enough to run it and ‘B’ if I am comfortable enough to run it — yet. It just depends on how I do. I talked to Christopher at Chili Bowl and said,’Hey, be on stand-by.’ He was going to be there any way. He just didn’t have a ride. So, I said, ‘Bring your stuff.’ We’re getting the car he ran for us last year ready. So we’ll take that down there, too. I don’t feel like I have to run every race any way.” 

Bell, who won his first Chili Bowl Nationals last Saturday night in Tulsa, also won the A-Feature in the Prelude to the Dirt Classic at Kokoma (IN) Speedway driving the No. 14 410 Winged-Sprint car for Stewart last July. 

As for his own track -- Eldora Speedway -- Stewart says the only thing we’ll be driving is “the tractor”. The Knoxville Nationals is also a possibility, although Stewart doesn’t expect to be ready for the 2017 event. Still, he’s not ruling it out racing at the Iowa classic in the future. 

Pavement races

Racing on pavement is also on Stewart’s short list. Although he was disappointed that an opportunity didn't fall through for Le Mans, Stewart would like to run sports cars in the future. One of the benefits of team ownership — and adding Xfinity teams at Stewart-Haas Racing — is the potential of running one-offs particularly at road courses. 

Stewart is also looking forward to his debut in the Little 500 in Anderson, Ind. 

“It’s a 500-lap race the night before the Indy 500,” Stewart said. “I’ve never ran it, so it’s been a bucket list race that I’m going to run. You want to qualify on the front row cause it’s 500 laps.” 

Although Stewart currently has 70 races penciled in, he’s taking his season one race at a time. He wants the freedom to add or subtract races as he gets up to speed in the different race cars.

“There are some on the schedule that, that depending on where we’re at mid-season, might be  big races that I’m going to,” Stewart said. “It sounds like I’m a rookie driver but I kind of feel like one. It depends how I’m progressing early in the season on some of these races, whether we’re going to go or not — maybe still be there but not participate.

“There’s a bunch of tracks and a bunch of events that I’ve not raced at before that I’m finally going to get to go to.”

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