Although he doesn’t necessarily need another grandfather clock, Tony Stewart would be happy to win one more before he retires.
The Columbus native has won three grandfather clocks in his 16-year NASCAR Sprint Cup career. The prizes go to the winner of races at Martinsville (Virginia) Speedway, home of Sunday’s Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500.
“Even on the bad days, it can be fun,” Stewart said in a news release. “And when you have a good day, it’s great. The grandfather clock you get for winning is one of the cooler trophies in our sport. Normally, 20-year-old kids don’t get too excited about grandfather clocks, but you realize it’s more than that at Martinsville. There’s a lot of pride and lot of history with this sport at Martinsville.”
Stewart won his first Martinsville race after starting from the pole in the Fall 2000 race. He added wins in 2006 and 2011, the latter helping him to his third Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. Stewart also has three poles, 10 top-five finishes, 16 top-10s and 1,234 laps led.
Martinsville Speedway is a .526-mile bullring that Stewart realized was small when he first visited the track as a 27-year-old rookie in 1999.
“Back then, the noses on the cars were slanted and the rear bumpers were really high, and if you touched somebody you turned them around easily,” Stewart said. “Now, our bumpers match up better. You don’t wreck somebody right off the bat. But if you hit them enough, you will.”
Stewart sees Martinsville as a throwback venue that will stay on the circuit for years to come.
“I don’t care how old it gets or how far down the road it gets, it’s not going to be a track that I ever see leaving the schedule,” Stewart said. “It’s got too much history, too much personality, and that’s what you see a lack of in some of these 2-mile and 1.5-mile tracks. At those places, you’re going to get strung out. You’re going to get away from people. But the fans really like to see us on top of each other. That’s what ensures the longevity of Martinsville — the action they’re going to see.”