Tony Stewart seems to be enjoying this retirement thing.
Or, more accurately, retirement from driving in NASCAR Sprint Cup races.
The three-time Sprint Cup champion is a long way from just kicking back on his Columbus ranch in a rocking chair for extended periods of time. He still is a NASCAR team owner, he still has business interests and he still gets in the car for dirt track races such as the one he did Wednesday night at the Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds.
Stewart was dominant in the King of the UMRA TQ Midget event. He was the “Quick Qualifier,” won his heat race and captured the 20-lap main feature.
This was the first time Stewart had competed at the Bartholomew County Fair since 2013.
“When I quit my Cup deal, I have a little bit more flexibility in my schedule now,” Stewart said. “This was something that I just always remember at the fair every year when I was racing go-karts. We got to race at the small track with the go-karts, and the TQs ran the quarter-mile. So I just remember what it meant to me and how big a deal it was to me then. It’s kind of neat to be able to come back on the other side of the deal and do something like this once a year.”
This year’s race at the fair originally was scheduled for Tuesday night, but rain pushed it back until Wednesday night. Fortunately, Stewart still was able to race.
As soon as Wednesday’s race was finished, Stewart went home to shower, then made the two-hour drive to Eldora Speedway, the track he owns in Rossburg, Ohio.
Stewart is planning to be there for seven consecutive days and does not plan to make the trip to Dover, New Hampshire, for Sunday’s NASCAR race. Eldora will host a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, the Eldora Dirt Derby, at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“I think the whole concept is, you’re supposed to slow down a little bit when you retire, and I’m twice as busy now than I was before,” Stewart said. “But it seems to be a lot more fun when you’re busy doing stuff you want to do versus stuff that you have to do. We’re very busy, but having a lot of fun doing it.”