Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart said Wednesday that he will compete in “40 to 50” races next year, most on dirt and at least some driving for other car owners.
Stewart said he gave the 40-50 race schedule to Jimmy Carr, who serves as the crew chief for Stewart’s sprint car program. Stewart said Carr pinned him down so he could figure how much equipment he’d need next year.
It may be more than we’re going to do,” Stewart said of his tentative 2017 schedule. “But if we don’t have enough stuff, it will be hard to do what we want to do. If we do too much stuff, we can still do what we want to do.”
But Stewart will not race in the 2017 Chili Bowl Nationals midget race in Tulsa next January because he’ll be recovering from back surgery scheduled for Dec. 19, when doctors will remove screws in his back.
Stewart suffered a burst fracture of his L1 vertebra in the crash of an off-road sand rail in late January and missed the first eight races of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
In a wide-ranging interview Wednesday, Stewart said he hasn’t decided which Formula One races he would like to attend with his Sprint Cup team co-owner Gene Haas, who also owns an Formula One team.
“I have to talk to Gene. I want to go to Monaco but I don’t think I have fancy enough clothes to go to Monaco,” joked Stewart. “And I’m fairly certain I don’t have enough money to go to Monaco. If Uncle Gene wants to sponsor the trip and give me some allowance to go the casino every now and then …”
He did say he’s eager to take in the Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals, the nation’s biggest sprint car race. “That’s one I’m looking forward to again.”