Stewart makes surprise appearance

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
Two-time Nextel Cup Series champion Tony Stewart made a surprise appearance in the 66th running of the Turkey Night Grand Prix at Irwindale Speedway on Thursday night. Stewart spent the afternoon putting down test laps, but made no indication he was racing until he took his car out for qualifying. It turns out Stewart was trying to make his first USAC race of the year. Not that he has much time for USAC racing with his NASCAR schedule. But he owns a Midget team and apparently decided a week ago to race his own car in the traditional USAC event that is run on Thanksgiving. After beating a slew of NASCAR stars in qualifying, Kody Swanson of Kingsburg ended up battling his Western Speed Racing teammate Billy Wease {Penske Dev. driver] in the Midget race. Wease led the final 20 laps to win after he and Swanson ran into lapped traffic late in the race. Wease was able to maneuver his way through the lapped cars better than Swanson and won by 0.189seconds. Swanson, who crashed and rolled his car during the USAC Sprint car race, started from the pole in the 100-lap Midget race that included a NASCAR-filled field with Stewart, Mears, Jason Leffler and Truck Series driver Bobby East. Wease, who started fifth, caught Swanson on lap 80 and took the lead on the next lap. But on lap 90, Stewart crashed with Brady Bacon [Ganassi Dev. Driver] and set up a five-lap shootout between Wease and Swanson. Casey Mears was the highest finisher among the NASCAR drivers entered in the race, taking 16th. Stewart was 24th, Leffler was 30th and East finished last, in 34th place. Swanson, from Kingsburg, Calif., was the top qualifier of the 59 cars that came out for the Midget race. He beat out Stewart, Mears, Leffler and a host of USAC stars to win the pole in 16.988 seconds around the half-mile paved oval. Mears, Stewart and East, a driver on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, were in the same Midget B-main race to qualify for the feature. East won the B-main with Stewart in second and Mears in fourth. Tony Hunt led all 30 laps of the USAC Sprint car race and capped his championship season with a win in the Turkey Night GP. Mike Murgoitio was second and Tracy Hines was third. Mears, who started the Sprint car race in eighth, finished 16th, more than 10 seconds behind the race winner.(Los Angeles Daily News)