Stewart to race Gordon one final time

When Tony Stewart was nearing the finish of the Brickyard 400 in July, he asked his spotter, Bob Jeffrey, to talk with Jeff Gordon’s spotter about taking a final lap together around Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

So after the checkered flag fell, Gordon, who was making a replacement start after retiring at the end of last season, and Stewart, who has announced his retirement at the end of this season, circled the 2½-mile oval together.

“I can say that just ranks in the top-three coolest moments of my 18 years in this series,” Stewart said after the race. “To share that moment with Jeff here at Indianapolis — I don’t know, I don’t even have the words for it. That is a moment I will remember for the rest of my life.”

This afternoon, Stewart and Gordon will have a chance to race against each other again in the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 in Martinsville, Virginia. Gordon is filling in for Dale Earhnardt Jr.

Whether a similar tribute will happen remains to be seen.

“The Indy deal was special because it was Indy,” Stewart said in a news release. “He lived in Pittsboro — he wasn’t born there — a lot of his life. He was 20 minutes away from Indy, and I was 40 minutes away (in Columbus). That was a special place to us and special we could share that moment.”

At Martinsville, Stewart has three wins, 10 top-five finishes and 17 top-10s and has led a total of 1,234 laps in his 33 career Sprint Cup starts. He missed the April race at the half-mile paperclip while he was recovering from injuries sustained in an offseason accident.

Stewart said he is finding the longer he competes, the definition of short-track etiquette is different for everybody.

“When I started in the sport, you had Dale (Earnhardt) Sr., Rusty Wallace, Dale Jarrett, Mark Martin, Bobby Labonte and a host of guys who had a pretty strict etiquette and you played by the rules,” Stewart said.

“If you didn’t, when you were sitting there crashed against the wall, you had plenty of time to think about what you did wrong. Now you see guys do things, especially at Martinsville, that they don’t normally do anywhere else. You fight to get to the bottom of the racetrack because you have to. You just can’t run that second groove. You see them making really sketchy moves to get down as soon as they can.”

At a glance

TODAY’S RACE

Goody’s Fast Relief 500, 1 p.m. (NBCSN)

Starting position: (qualifying Friday)

LAST RACE

Finished 32nd in Hellman’s 500

Author photo
Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.