This weekend, F1 rolls into Circuit of the Americas in Austin Texas. The track is a 3.426-mile road course purpose built for Formula One.
On Thursday, NASCAR demonstration laps will take place at COTA between 12-1 p.m. CDT. Itâs nor the first time a NASCAR racecar makes laps around the American F1 course. Previously, Martin Truex Jr did a seat swap with a V8 Supercar driver.
Tony Stewart will be one of the three drivers to turn laps in the machine. It will be his first time behind the wheel of a stock car since November 20, 2016 when he ended his career at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Stewart will drive the No. 14 Haas Automation Ford Mustang from Stewart-Haas Racing. The car will come fitted with a passenger seat, for F1 drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean.
âItâs kind of hard to believe that itâs been three years since I last drove a stock car, but seeing some of these road-course races â especially the Roval at Charlotte â have piqued my interest a bit, so this is a good way to sort of satisfy that hunger,â said Tony Stewart.
âIâve never been to COTA. All I know about it is what Iâve seen on TV and on my iRacing simulator. I kind of like that. Even after two decades in NASCAR, thereâs still new stuff to experience. I havenât driven that racetrack and Kevin and Romain havenât ever driven a stock car. Weâll figure it out together.â
Tony Stewart is retired from NASCAR Cup Series competition. But, heâs far from retired from racing.
âPeople sometimes say, âWe miss seeing you behind the wheel,â and Iâm like, âWell, youâre going to the wrong places nowâ,â Stewart said of his dirt racing ventures.
âIâm racing 100 times a year. Youâve just got to come watch me in a different car.â
On Thursday and Friday night, Tony Stewart will be on the track in the Texas Sprint Car Nationals.
âItâs the best of both worlds for me,â said Stewart.
âI get to be with our NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series teams during the day, but each night I get to go over to the Dirt Track.â
âItâs fun for our crew guys too. Theyâre racers who have dirt-track blood in their veins. They come over and watch the race. It just makes for a perfect weekend.â
This isnât his first time around in an exhibition run with Tony Stewart. Last year, Magnussen found himself behind the wheel of a 410 sprint car at Carolina Speedway.
When the F1 driver climbed behind the wheel of a dirt sprint car, it was filmed for a NETFLIX special on F1.
âI found my feet in that sprint car last October pretty quickly thanks to his advice, and also thanks to him jumping in the car and showing how itâs done before I got in,â Kevin Magnussen said of his trip to Carolina Speedway in Gastonia, North Carolina
âI had a great time with Tony. Heâs a great driving instructor and he knows his way around these things. His experience and knowledge when it comes to stock cars is probably just as impressive.â
Magnussen hasnât driven a stock car before. The closest thing heâs experienced is a DTM machine.
âA DTM car is very aerodynamic,â Magnussen said. âThey have a lot of downforce. A stock car hardly has any downforce. So, I donât have any idea how itâll be.â
âIâve never driven a NASCAR before. Iâm pretty certain itâs going to be very different to the other car I drive around COTA. Itâs going to be a very interesting experience. A NASCAR is such an iconic racecar. Iâve always been eager to try one.â
âOf course, itâs usually in its element on an oval, but they do race on road courses, as well. Itâll be interesting to have a go and have a bit of fun,â Magnussen concluded.
The HAAS F1 Team has two pilots. Both of them will take a stab behind the wheel of the NASCAR racecar.
âI think we just need to slam the brakes a bit earlier than we do with a Formula One car,â said Romain Grosjean said.
âWeâll see how the engine responds to throttle application. I canât wait. The sound of itâs going to be great.â
âI think itâs going to be a good experience. I think having Tony Stewart helping us and giving us advice is going to be bloody amazing,â Grosjean added.
Tony Stewart has been granted membership into the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2020. He will be officially inducted on Jan. 31, 2020.
But, the acknowledgments donât stop there. On Saturday, Stewart will be inducted into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame.
âIt does mean a lot to me,â said Stewart about this most recent accolade. âItâs nothing you think about as a driver. Itâs not your aspiration while youâre driving to be in the Hall of Fame.â
âWhen youâre a driver, all you want to do is win big races and win championships, and to still have that opportunity and still be able to race and compete at the same time as weâre joining the Hall of Fame is pretty cool,â Stewart concluded.