LOVELAND, Ohio — Tony Stewart’s short track racing schedule for the year gained a crown jewel in it on Wednesday, as Hoffman Auto Racing announced that the three-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion will pilot the No. 69 Mean Green/Lykins Energy Solutions sprint car in the 69th annual Pay Less Little 500.
The outing on May 27 will mark Stewart’s debut in the 500-lap non-winged sprint car race at the quarter-mile Anderson (Ind.) Speedway.
HAR is the defending team’s champion at the Little 500, with multi-time USAC Silver Crown Series champion Kody Swanson pairing with the team en route to a dominating victory last May.
“We were celebrating our 2016 Little 500 win on the frontstretch of Anderson Speedway (with Swanson) when good friend Tara Armstrong said that Tony Stewart wanted to congratulate my son Rob and I on the big win,” said car owner Richard Hoffman in the team’s announcement. “He was so gracious taking the time to call us. He also mentioned that running the Little 500 (was) on his bucket list and (to) keep him in mind for 2017. I didn’t think I could get any more excited at the time, but I did.”
“Tony driving this race for us will go down as a highlight in the storied 88-year history of HAR. Needless to say, my son Rob will come out of retirement to prepare and crew chief the car.”
While he has never driven in the Little 500, Stewart has driven for the Hoffman family in the past, at a track he is very familiar with.
“I’m thrilled to make my Little 500 debut with Hoffman Auto Racing,” Stewart said. “It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to compete in such a historic race with this team. Ironically, my only other outing in the Hoffman No. 69 was at Eldora Speedway, long before I owned it. The team was strong then and it has remained strong. Their win in last year’s Little 500 proved it, and I’m looking forward to driving their race car.”
The 45-year old is a two-time USAC National Midget Series champion and won the USAC Triple Crown (claiming the National Sprint Car, Midget and Silver Crown titles) in 1995. He also won the 1997 Verizon IndyCar Series championship and was inducted into the USAC Hall of Fame last year.
Stewart said last week, during the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals, that he has 71 races confirmed to his calendar for the season and plans to add ‘about 10 to 15 more’ before his schedule is finalized.
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