If anyone wanted to know about his love of animals, whom he sees as a rival on the track, his favorite beer or the story of his come-from-behind win in Homestead to take Sprint Cup’s top prize, Tony Stewart left it all on the table Tuesday evening in a question and answer session with 200 fans at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The special event capped a busy day for the 2011 champion and winner of last week’s race at Las Vegas. He began the morning with a team meeting in North Carolina and spent time with local children in Kingsport upon arriving in the area.
Conversation quickly turned to Sunday’s performance in the desert where Stewart gained his earliest calendar visit to victory lane in his Sprint Cup career alongside a new crew chief in Steve Addington.
“I’m very excited about finally winning at Vegas,” said Stewart. “It was fun to finally get that first win. Believe it or not that’s the earliest we’ve ever won. We normally don’t get going until a couple of months into the season.”
Stewart, who won the August night race at Bristol in 2001, returns to a track where he has had his shares of ups and downs.
A year ago, “Smoke” finished 19th in the Food City 500, then capped a start at the end of the field with a 28th under the lights.
In 2010, however, Stewart finished second in the spring race for his eighth top 10 finish at the half-mile since joining the circuit in 2009. He has led 1,352 laps at Bristol and appreciates the give-and-take drivers receive at the track.
“This is definitely, even though I have only won one race here, this is definitely one of my favorite places because it’s very, very hard to win here,” Stewart said. “Some people say if you make one mistake, it’s too hard to recover from it. When you win a race here, you know you’ve done something. That’s why when you see guys get on top and are pretty excited to get out because it’s a hard place to win.”
Among the topics Stewart was asked by fans, including whether he still wears Old Spice, he has a desire to have kids or if Danica Patrick was going Sprint Cup full-time, was his pre-race routine, which he says he hasn’t changed since joining NASCAR.
“I get up race morning and take a shower,” Stewart said. “That’s it. I’ve been racing for 32 years so I’m like anybody else at work. I’ve done