Tony Stewart inducted into USAC Hall of Fame
Tony Stewart (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)
By AMANDA VINCENT
Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship driver and Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Tony Stewart will be inducted into the USAC Hall of Fame on Thursday night in a ceremony at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, Ind., near Indianapolis.
Stewart is one of only six USAC “Triple Crown” champions. He became the first driver to accomplish the feat, winning all three of USAC’s national titles — Midget, Sprint and Silver Crown — in 1995. His 1995 Midget championship was a second-straight, as he also claimed that honor in 1994.
Stewart already is a member of the National Midget Hall of Fame, having been inducted in 2001.
Stewart’s success has spanned several forms of motorsport. As an Indy Racing League driver in the second half of the 1990s, he was the Indianapolis 500 pole sitter as a rookie in 1996. He started on the front row again the next and drove to a top-five finish. He also pulled an Indy/Charlotte double, running the Indianapolis 500 two final times after becoming a full-time NASCAR Sprint (then-Winston) Cup competitor. In 1999 and 2001, he raced both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway on the same day. Stewart claimed three wins as an IRL driver and was the series champion in 1997.
At NASCAR’s Cup level, Stewart claimed championships in 2002, 2005 and 2011. The first two of those driver championships came while driving for Joe Gibbs Racing. In 2009, he became part-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing and claimed a championship as an owner/driver a couple years later. He is the only driver to have championships under all three of NASCAR’s premier series title sponsorship banners, to date — Winston Cup, Nextel Cup and Sprint Cup. He won a second championship as a NASCAR team owner in 2014 with Kevin Harvick as driver.
Just as Stewart’s success as a driver has spanned several forms of racing, so has his success as a team owner. His race teams have won seven sprint car owner championships and seven Silver Crown Series owner championships in USAC. Meanwhile his World of Outlaw team has six championships.
Stewart is retiring from full-time NASCAR competition at the end of the 2016 season. Stewart looks poised to be one of 16 drivers to compete for the 2016 Sprint Cup championship in his final season, posting his latest win last month at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway.