There's a whole bunch of purists out there that believe dirt is for racing, asphalt is for getting there. Many of those fans may be looked at an eccentric demographic of the collective known as 'race fans', an odd off shoot much like survivalists and doomsday preppers. Be that as it may, dirt track racing is beloved by thousands, if not millions of American race fans. Perhaps the biggest of these fans is also one of the premier drivers in NASCAR, Tony Stewart. Smoke is well known for his many dirt track races he'll race in a season. The question is, why? It can't be the money. Why does Tony Stewart do it?
“It’s like hitting a reset button for me." Smoke said recently. "It’s a lot of effort, a lot of money and a lot of time involved to do all this, but it’s worth it. It’s worthwhile because it’s something not everybody can do. I’m in a fortunate position where I have the resources to do it, but I also don’t have a wife and children. I have a German Shepherd who doesn’t care where we go, he’s just happy to go with us. I have the flexibility a lot of these other drivers don’t. But even if they had the time, I’m not sure they’d want to go run 70 dirt races on top of a 38-race Cup schedule. It’s just what I enjoy. It’s my release. I’m a very competitive person. I like my downtime, but I like being busy on the weekends. I enjoy being able to go run dirt races and Cup races. Being busy with all of that keeps me sharp. I ran the most dirt races I ever ran last year since I’ve been a Cup driver with 46, and with that I probably had one of the most fun years of my life even though it wasn’t my best year in Cup. But the nine races we won in the Sprint Car helped balance that out. It’s a balancing act for me. That’s what I’m into. Other people are into golf, but going racing on Friday night and Saturday night and during the week is my golf. Until I can’t do it anymore, this is what I want to do.”
So, what skills translate to NASCAR? How does turning the wrong way in a sprint car make a difference on Sundays? “I think it helps on the restarts, for sure. I’m definitely more aggressive on the restarts. In Sprint Car racing, you have to get a lot done at the start and on restarts, and I think that part has really been a positive and really been a help in making me more aggressive. Even though Cup races are much longer races, being able to get guys while they’re getting up to speed or while their tires are building pressure, that more aggressive attitude helps me on the restarts because I can pick up an extra spot here and there.” Stewart said.