Tony Stewart apparently doesn't know the meaning of taking it easy. This is the guy who drove in the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day last year. This is the guy who ran seventh in a low-profile super late model race in Irwindale, Calif., last Saturday night, less than 24 hours before he would finish 10th in NASCAR's NAPA Auto Parts 500 in Fontana, 35 miles away. This is the guy who spent the first off week of the Winston Cup season, April 17 to 23, working at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as a crew chief for the IRL team he co-owns. "I'm a racer, and racers go race," he says. "I don't know how else to explain it."
Stewart and three partners own the Tri-Star Motorsports IRL team. Their primary driver is Jeret Schroeder, but for the Vegas race the team decided to enter a second car, with Jack (the Driving Dentist) Miller at the wheel. With nothing better to do, Stewart donned the headsets and served as Miller's crew chief. The race ended early for the Miller-Stewart combo when the car went out with an electrical problem after 54 of the 312 laps.
Nevertheless, Stewart learned plenty about the other end of the driver-crew chief relationship. "It's frustrating because I can't be in the car and know exactly what it's doing," says Stewart. "I have to rely on his information. I've always respected what Greg [Zipadelli, his Winston Cup crew chief] has done, but you gain more of an appreciation when you have to be in his shoes."
A Wild Day at The Rio 200
Adrian Fernandez won CART's Rio 200 on Sunday after rookie Alex Tagliani, who was leading comfortably, spun out with nine laps to go. The race wasn't without incident as Michael Andretti, who ran into one of his crewmen in the pits last June in Milwaukee, hit another of his guys during the Sunday race. This crewman fractured his right leg and ankle, but instead of being disqualified, Andretti was assessed only a stop-and-go penalty. He came in ninth, a lap down.