Racing beat

Left to right: Tony Stewart and Sam Bass unveil a print commemorating Stewart’s 2005 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard victory.

Talk to Tony
Having earned a reputation as NASCAR’s “bad boy” with occasionally violent behavior and more than a few temper flare-ups, Tony Stewart returned to Alabama in mid-summer ready to talk – and laugh.

“I love Alabama,” Stewart says. “(Racing legend) Red Farmer and I are good friends, and in 2002, he and I started hunting and fishing together,” Stewart says. “He took me to a hunting club down by Demopolis, and now I’m a member, and he and I go every year. When he gets up my way, I take him to a hunting club in Indiana.

“That’s something I look forward to every time there’s a race week at Talladega. I know Red and I are going to get together and do some stuff.”

Talladega has proven to be a good luck omen for Stewart. When he left TSS after the 2002 October race, he had logged one of his six, second-place finishes at the track and left town with a first-place position in points.

He would go on to win his first Cup series title that season.

“Now it’s become a tradition,” Stewart says. “I know when I come here, Red and I are going to hunt or fish, and I also know I’m going to watch him run dirt and run a little myself. It’s become a major part of trips to Talladega.”

Stewart has become a frequent visitor – and competitor – at Talladega Short Track, which he calls “the neatest dirt track I’ve ever seen.” He says any time there’s something going on at the 1/3-mile clay oval, he wants to be a part of it.

“If it has something to do with Talladega Short Track, I’m there,” Stewart says. “Anybody who knows me knows I race late models a lot. It’s my favorite kind of racing, and it’s almost as fun to watch Red race as to do it myself.

“So I know when I come here, I can race at a track where I usually finish pretty well, race at the most fun dirt track in the country and hang out with a good friend.”

Beginning in January, Stewart will have the opportunity to hang out with a lot more of his good friends.

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SIRIUS Satellite Radio, the Official Satellite Radio Partner of NASCAR starting in 2007, will be home to a weekly live talk show hosted by Stewart.

Tony Stewart Live will air exclusively on SIRIUS’ upcoming 24/7 NASCAR channel. The weekly, two-hour show will feature Stewart – who has never been shy about expressing his opinions in 27 years of racing – taking calls from listeners, talking with prominent guests and talking about motorsports from NASCAR to open-wheel racing.

Matt Yocum, who is a pit reporter for the NASCAR broadcasts on FOX/FX and NBC/TNT, will be Stewart’s co-host on Tony Stewart Live.

Preview editions of the show will begin on SIRIUS. “Our show will allow us to speak with the fans on our terms, where we’re free to talk about anything and everything, from racing and rock and roll to our travels across America,” says Stewart. “It’s a unique opportunity, and we plan to make the most of it.”

Scott Greenstein, SIRIUS’ president, entertainment and sports, says Stewart,”will have the freedom to run this show the same way he runs the track in his 20 car – fast, aggressive and willing to trade a little paint with our listeners.”

Stewart is a two-time NASCAR Nextel Cup Series champion, winning the title in 2002 and 2005, one of only 14 drivers in the history of NASCAR to win multiple Cup titles. Stewart is also the first and only driver to have won championships in stock cars, Indy cars and in USAC’s Midget, Sprint and Silver Crown divisions.

While racing Indy cars, Stewart also began dabbling in stock cars. He ran nine NASCAR Busch Series races in 1996. There, his versatility was noticed by Joe Gibbs – the three-time Super Bowl-winning coach of the Washington Redskins and owner of Joe Gibbs Racing. By 1997, Stewart was a member of Joe Gibbs Racing, running five Busch Series races before a 22-race Busch Series slate in 1998. In 1999, Stewart moved to the Cup Series. During an extraordinary rookie campaign, Stewart won three races, was crowned Rookie of the Year and became the first driver to complete both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.

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