Deja Vu For Stewart In 2004?

Discussion in 'Racing News (2010 & Earlier)' started by jdearing, Jan 7, 2004.

  1. jdearing

    jdearing Administrator Staff Member

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    Stewart Prepares his Mopar for Friday Night Chili Bowl Appearance

    CENTER LINE, Mich. - As Tony Stewart prepares to begin his 2004 racing
    season, the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series star is finding himself in familiar territory.
    Testing earlier this week for the Rolex 24 at the Daytona International
    Speedway and flying into Tulsa, Okla., for the 18th annual O'Reilly Chili Bowl
    Midget Nationals, Stewart is on the same path that led him to his 2002 NASCAR
    Winston Cup Series crown.

    Stewart, who fields cars for Team Mopar's well-known, open-wheel stable that
    includes Cory Kruseman, Jay Drake, Dave Steele, Josh Wise and Danny Lasoski,
    will strap himself into a Mopar-powered machine this Friday for his eighth
    Chili Bowl appearance. Stewart will pilot the No. 71 Keith Kunz Motorsports entry
    in his hunt for his second Chili Bowl title.

    While the outcome of the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals may not dictate the
    entirety of his 2004 season, Stewart wouldn't mind if his winning the event were a
    premonition of the season's outcome. Read on to learn Stewart's thoughts on
    the Chili Bowl Nationals, Mopar engines, and the 2004 racing season.

    Tony Stewart, NASCAR Nextel Cup star and driver of the No. 71 Mopar-powered
    midget from Keith Kunz Motorsports, on the appeal of the Chili Bowl event:

    "First and foremost, I enjoy the event. The Chili Bowl is just a lot of fun.
    It's the one time during the year that I get to see all of my friends in one
    place. Competing in the Chili Bowl, you're running against guys from all the
    different open wheel series. You've got guys from the World of Outlaws, USAC,
    and SCRA and from Pennsylvania. When you run the Chili Bowl, you know you're
    competing against the best of the best. But while the Chili Bowl is one of my
    favorite events, it's also nice for our fans to get to watch us in an open wheel
    race. I put more pressure on myself to do well in this event because of the
    fans. I know they expect us to do well, so I put more pressure on myself to
    perform well."

    Tony Stewart on the advantage of driving a Mopar-powered midget at the Chili
    Bowl Midget Nationals:

    "The Mopar engines are just perfect for a track like Tulsa. They're very
    smooth and versatile, which is the type of engine you need to run the Chili Bowl.
    The track itself is very tricky, and it changes a lot throughout the night.
    The Mopar [engine's] versatility allows you to adjust to the track as it
    changes, which is critical to our Chili Bowl run. My two best finishes have come in
    the past two years - while driving Mopar-powered cars. I'll definitely have an
    advantage again this year with the Mopar."

    Tony Stewart on his driving strategy during the Chili Bowl:

    "At the Chili Bowl, you can't afford to be cautious. You don't really relax
    during the night at all - you're too busy trying to put yourself in a good
    position for the race. The heat races and main events are the most crucial,
    they're really important in making the race. The points from the heat races are
    valuable, so you hope you start far enough back in your heat to pick up a lot of
    passing points, which will give you a better position in the main. There are so
    many really good drivers who don't make the A-main at the Chili Bowl - it's a
    really tough event. You just have to throw caution to the wind."

    Tony Stewart on the 2002 vs. 2004 racing season and how they compare thus far:

    "The 2002 season started out much the same as this one has so far. We
    [Stewart, Jan Lammers and Johnny Mowlem] tested for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and then
    we won the Chili Bowl that year. We went on that year to win the Winston Cup
    championship, which was the perfect end to a great season. The Chili Bowl is
    definitely a big event, and if we can go out and win it this year, it will give
    me a lot of hope for the 2004 season."

    Mopar is based in Center Line, Mich., and is the exclusive original equipment
    supplier of parts and accessories for Chrysler, Dodge and JeepĀ® vehicles.

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