NASCAR: Tony Stewart To Run In 2017 Daytona 500

Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

Three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart has never won the Daytona 500 and it now appears as though he will have one more chance to win The Great American Race in 2017.

Unconfirmed sources are confirming that in an about-face that is sure to leave many Stewart fans delighted, plans are in the works to juggle drivers, sponsors and cars to allow Stewart an opportunity to add a win in the “Great American Race” to his already Hall-Of-Fame worthy resume. While the plan is still for Stewart to retire full-time from NASCAR at the end of the 2016 season, it would now appear that his last NASCAR race will be the 2017 Daytona 500 since he was not able to run in the 2016 Daytona 500.

There are still plenty of questions that have to be answered including what to do with Clint Bowyer, who is scheduled to become the full-time driver of the No. 14 car beginning in 2017. Also, how does the new charter system impact the endeavor? how does SHR’s changing of manufacturers from Chevrolet to Ford impact the preparations and how will sponsorship be secured? Despite all of the questions, Clint Bowyer seems happy and maybe even a little surprised by the move.

First, Stewart (or any owner/driver) is bound by NASCAR rules to only drive for an organization in which he has an ownership or equity interest. Driving for anyone else would require him to relinquish his stake in SHR.  The conventional wisdom right now is on one of two scenarios materializing. First, Stewart could sell, in early 2017, his stake in SHR to Gene Haas for $1 and then buy it back from Haas following Daytona for, let’s say $2. After all, Haas is a successful businessman who likes a return on his investment. If a big business deal isn’t in the cards, Bowyer would be asked to accept a one-race deal elsewhere for the Daytona 500 to allow Stewart to drive the No. 14 car.

Bowyer would need to do this because NASCAR rules only allow an organization to field four entries for any race. NASCAR used to allow for a fifth entry to run for a team for a limited number of races, like Chase Elliott did in 2015. However, the new charter system did away with that so those of you thinking of trying to pass Stewart off as a rookie, it’s not going to work and it’s not longer possible. So, where will Bowyer go?

Team Penske.

Think about it — SHR is switching to Ford for 2017. Penske is already arguably the strongest Ford team and has embraced SHR’s move. They have also vowed to help as much as they can with the transition. Also, even if Ryan Blaney leaves Wood Brothers Racing and joins Penske as a 3rd full-time entry next year, there is still an available 4th slot for Penske to field a car for Bowyer for Daytona. Given Bowyer’s talent and Penske’s equipment and preparation, it shouldn’t be much of a concern on Clint’s part to attempt to qualify for the race without the security of one of the 36 Charters. Penske has reportedly promised him he’ll qualify, even if it means having one of the other drivers sneak into the car and make the qualifying run for him.

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As for sponsorship, SHR management is reportedly weighing options. Asking Bass Pro Shops to partner would be an option, as they have sponsored the No. 14 car in February at Daytona for the past few years. Surely Ty Dillon would understand if he was asked to share in the Bass Pro spotlight one more time, as he did this year. Although in the last few days the buzz has shifted to Stewart’s long-time sponsor when he was with Joe Gibbs’ Racing, Home Depot. They reportedly want back into NASCAR and partnering with Stewart using their new “You can do it. We can help” marketing strategy would be a win-win for both SHR and the home improvement retailer.

If all else fails, other unconfirmed reports have SHR reaching out to for sponsorship, because this story is just that – a complete hoax that hopefully brought a smile to your face today. Even though this story isn’t real, it doesn’t mean that that this couldn’t or shouldn’t happen. Seeing Stewart in one more Daytona 500 would be pretty cool and him winning it would certainly be a storybook ending for his NASCAR career (assuming he doesn’t come back and win a fourth championship this season).

Happy April Fool’s Day from all of us here at In the spirit of the day we here at BTF would also like to give back to all of our readers who enjoyed our 2016 April Fool’s Day article.

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