In Tony Stewart’s 18-year NASCAR career, he’s won at every track on the Sprint Cup circuit except two.
One is Kentucky Speedway. Since the Columbus native has announced his retirement from Sprint Cup racing at the end of the season, he is unlikely to be able to cross that one off his list.
The other still is a possibility. Stewart will race in at Darlington (South Carolina) Raceway tonight for what might be the final time. The Southern 500 is scheduled for 6 p.m.
“Winning the Southern 500 is a goal of anyone who ever races in NASCAR,” Stewart said in a news release. “We’ve been fortunate enough to win a lot of races and championships, but I’m not going to lie — taking home the trophy from the Southern 500 would be really cool, especially in a really cool car.”
This weekend is throwback weekend at Darlington. Teams will honor the NASCAR heritage with special paint schemes and uniforms.
Stewart’s No. 14 car will sport a red-and-gold Coca-Cola paint scheme to honor Bobby Allison’s back-to-back wins at Darlington in 1971-72.
“(Allison) was fierce in a racecar,” said Stewart, who remembers watching Allison at a dirt race in Scottsburg as a youth. “You knew that if he was out there, you were going to have to be on your game to beat him that day.”
Stewart’s best finishes at Darlington were third-place results in 2009 and 2012. He has four top-five finishes and 12 top-10s and has led a total of 30 laps in his 23 career Sprint Cup starts at the venue.
With only two races remaining before the start of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Stewart is looking to continue the momentum he has built over the past 2½ months.
“You want to be peaking at that time,” Stewart said. “It’s never that you go to the track and you’re like, ‘Well, we don’t want to peak this weekend, so we’re not going to try to win the race.’ That’s not the scenario you put yourself in. You want to have momentum … Until the last two races, we were knocking out top-fives left and right here and, if we can have that kind of consistency again, that could carry us a long way in the Chase.”
Bojangles Southern 500, 6 p.m. (NBC)
Starting position: (qualifying Saturday)
Finished 21st in the Pure Michigan 400
CHASE FOR THE CUP
Last race: 20 points
Season total: 420 points (26th)
Current position on Chase grid: 12th