Tony Stewart remains open to the idea of racing at the Indy 500 – but it won’t be in 2019.
“Not this coming year,” he told NBC Sports’ Rutledge Wood during Sunday’s Brickyard 400 rain delay. “I did what I normally do, I let my mouth open before I thought about what I was saying and mentioned that I was open to the possibility again, and I realistically am.
“I’ve talked to Michael Andretti; Roger Penske says I still have an open invitation. I think Ganassi would put me back in a car. But an email I didn’t expect was from Bobby Rahal and David Letterman to come and run in one of their cars. And I don’t do emails, so I haven’t even responded to Bobby Rahal yet, so I just found out I had an email from him.”
Stewart has said in the past that he would not contemplate running at the 500 just to make up the numbers, and again confirmed that this was the main reason he’d decided not to commit to a 2019 program
“The reason I wouldn’t do it next year… I’ve been here and done it,” he said. “I’m not doing it to just do it. I want to do it to try to win the race. If you’re really going to do that, the IndyCar Series is so competitive right now, and the drivers and teams so even and so tough, you’re not going to just stroll in here like they used to do in the ’70s and ’80s and do a good job. I would want to run an oval race sometime in this coming year to get ready for 2020 if I’m going to do it. I’ve learned never to say never, but doing the math, I’ve realized that 49 is probably not a really good age to try to resurrect an IndyCar career. But who knows. I’ve done a lot dumber things than that.”
Stewart started from pole on his Indy 500 debut in 1996 and led 31 laps before dropping out with a broken engine. His best result at the race was a fifth the following year, although he produced another two top-10 finishes in 1999 and 2001.