Updated: Wednesday, 21 Nov 2012, 4:38 PM EST
Published : Wednesday, 21 Nov 2012, 4:37 PM EST
For Tony Stewart, the sheer joy of wheeling a midget race car around a tight, 1/6-mile indoor track is irresistible.
The three-time NASCAR champion will return to the 15 th annual “Rumble in Fort Wayne” on Friday, Dec. 28 and Saturday, Dec. 29, trying to add to his record nine victories at the Memorial Coliseum Expo Center. He swept the two-day program last year for the second time in his career.
“I just like to race,” said the 41-year-old from Columbus, Ind., who got his start in the lightweight open-wheel, open-cockpit cars. “When the weather is bad outside and you can’t do anything else and you like racing, to be able to race indoors is really a luxury.”
The unique holiday event brings together more than 300 competitors in midgets, winged outlaw modified midgets (600cc), karts and quarter midgets. Spectator gates open at 11 a.m. each day, with midget time trials at 6 p.m. and the main portion of the program after 7:30.
“It’s just fun,” said Stewart, who especially likes to watch the younger drivers, with an eye toward the future of his own race teams. “You get everything from kids racing quarter midgets and go-karts to guys who’ve been racing 20-25 years.”
Stewart’s record at Fort Wayne is remarkable. His nine victories have come in just 14 starts, and only once has he failed to win when his car was running at the finish. That was on the second night in 2008, when East Coast standout Lou Cicconi Jr. beat him in a race that went green all the way. Stewart also holds the track qualifying record of 7.323 seconds, set in 2005.
Stewart will return in his black No. 2 Munchkin chassis, which he half-jokingly says is funded by his poker games. He also will field a second Tony Stewart Racing entry for his longtime teammate and car builder, Mike Fedorcak of nearby Roanoke, Ind. Fedorcak won on the opening night in 2002.
“It’s going to be great fun to have Tony racing at the Rumble against champions from a variety of series,” event organizer Tony Barhorst of Classic Motorsports said. “He first arrived in 1999 unannounced. One year, he even competed under the name Mikey Fedorcak Jr. from Gnawbone, Ind.
“This year, we know for sure he will be here.”
Information about “Rumble in Fort Wayne” entries, racer’s rate hotels and tickets are available at www.rumbleseries.com . Tickets may be ordered by mail without a service charge. The event information line is (317) 418-3206. Requests for information may be e-mailed to email@example.com .
Tony Stewart at ‘Rumble in Fort Wayne’
● Record nine feature victories (second: Billy Wease, 3)
● Record 10 fast qualifying times (second: Aaron Pierce, 2)
● Holds track qualifying record, 7.323 seconds, set Dec. 30, 2005
Year * First night – Second night
1998 Did not compete
1999 10 th
2000 Did not compete
2001 11 th – 1 st
2002 Did not compete
2003 Did not compete
2004 1 st – DNC
2005 11 th – 1 st
2006 1 st – 1 st
2007 11 th – 1 st
2008 1 st – 2 nd
2009 Did not compete
2010-11 Did not compete
2011 1 st – 1 st
*Weekend format consisted of one feature in 1998-2000 and two features since 2001
Ground rules for posting comments: No profanity or personal attacks. No racially charged comments. If it's not something you would say to someone's face, it's most likely inappropriate. Please comment on the subject of the story itself. If you do not follow these rules, we will remove your post. Repeat offenders will be banned from making future comments. Keep it civil, folks! WANE is not responsible for the content posted in this comment section.