(Almost) Midnight Madness / Stewart wins TQ Midget race after long delay in rain
The night it was rebranded as “Tony Stewart Speedway”, the song’s namesake sent home the 200 or so fans who stayed behind after a long delay in the rain for the A-Main feature.
The Columbus native and three-time NASCAR Cup Series and Hall of Famer champion won the 25-lap race in his All Star Circuit of Champions TQ Midgets event late Tuesday night, hours after a ceremony to name the track.
âI have fun running with this group,â said Stewart. âWe helped put him under our banner with the All-Stars, and we’re trying to grow him and attract new membersâ¦ I know what that meant to me when I was that age, and to me. ‘being each other at the end, I don’t necessarily like getting old, but it’s part of life, and it’s definitely better than the alternative. I love coming back here, I love running here and it is at home.
After the track opening ceremony, competitors went through qualifying, the Trophy Dash and two of the three qualifying races. Then came the rain and the lighting.
Although the rain did not last long, it left a lot of humidity on the track. It took the workers about two hours to get him ready to resume shopping.
âThe fair picture is probably the unsung heroes of the night,â said Stewart. âThey deserve the biggest pat on the back and the biggest applause for the hard work they’ve done to get this track back in shape. There aren’t many other county fairgrounds in the country that would dedicate that kind of time and effort and would have the knowledge of what to do to make the trail so good. “
Stewart, who had qualified third behind Joey Paxson and Tate Martz and won the Trophy Dash, won Round 3 after the race resumed at around 10:25 pm Tuesday.
Starting fourth in the 25-lap function, Stewart moved up to third place after one lap and second place after two laps. He remained second behind Johnny Heydenreich of Indianapolis on the first yellow in the 15th round.
When the race turned green, Stewart stayed close to Heydenreich until he slipped under him on Turn 4 on lap 19.
âJohnny was quick tonight,â said Stewart. âJohnny has raced sprint cars with us and Silver Crown cars forever. He’s a guy who’s tough and tough to handle. If he’s quick like he was tonight, he’s really tough. track, as much as it is nice and symmetrical, it doesn’t have a nice, symmetrical ride. It was missing the bottom in (turns) 1 and 2, and it actually started to lack a bit in the 3 and 4 too. “
Stewart retained the lead thanks to a warning on lap 23 and the checkered flag.
âI didn’t do a very good job on the setup,â said Stewart. âI left my car too loose. I thought it was going to stay a lot more sticky than it was in the qualifying race and I didn’t tighten the car enough for the main race. We didn’t tighten the car enough for the main race. So weren’t exactly perfect, and (Heydenreich) It took me about eight laps to figure out the timing, with where it slid and left the bottom open and how I could take advantage of it and just try to take its queueâ¦
âHonestly, I didn’t even think we were going to have this opportunity,â he added. âI thought we were probably going to run behind him to be honest, but he was still missing the places that I thought were really crucial on this track and I thought he could at least get a good turn and then he had a bobble. got a little too high in 4, and it cost him some time, and it got us close enough to do something with him. But he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes like that, and when he does , we have to take advantage of it because he won’t continue to do them very often. “
The third to fifth places have remained about the same for the last 23 laps. Matt Lux of Shelbyville was third, while Matthew Hedrick of Rushville was fourth and Rylan Gray, 15, of Greenfield, fifth.
Stewart’s father Nelson started 12th and finished 10th.
âMy dad is 83 and he’s still running so I would say that means I have to stay here for a long time,â said Tony Stewart. “And I’m okay with that. It’s a place I’ve always loved to come and run. I know it’s humid. I know it’s hot, but there’s nowhere else where I would rather be on a Tuesday night than here with you guys at these funfairs on this race track and remembering what it was like to be 8 and 8 to 10 to 12 to 15 and to be there when the fair came up. We were racing the karts with the three-quarter dwarfs, and I remember how cool it was to watch these guys run. That’s why it’s so important for me to come home at home and to be able to run on this track. “