Stewart entertains fans at Red River Valley Speedway
When Tony Stewart returns in August, maybe he needs to bring some candy, flowers and even a movie.
Doing that could lead to the Red River Valley Speedway finally being kind to him. The two-time NASCAR champion's night had a surprising end on Thursday when he crashed in the second lap of the Late Models feature race on the three-eighths mile dirt track. Jake Redetzke of Eau Claire, Wis., won the race.
"I am not going to stay where I am at," said a determined Stewart before the race.
Obviously, the outcome was a bit different than the 40-year-old Stewart would have liked, yet it capped what's been a bit of a frustrating stint at the Red River Valley Speedway.
Stewart opened his warm-up laps prior to the race struggling to make smooth turns.
He entered his heat race and rallied to finish fourth, missing out on the last qualifying spot in the feature.
That resulted in Stewart having to qualify for the feature by racing in the B-Main, where he pulled out of the race with suspension issues, according to Stewart's official Twitter feed.
Stewart was thrown into the feature through a sponsor's provisional, and as the race was just about to head into its second lap, he collided with a pack of cars.
Couple those problems with the way the feature race ended, and it turned out that Stewart had a lot in common with 1970s rock band Pink Floyd: Their last hit was 'The Wall.'
"What's hard for people to understand is everybody thinks we're the favorites when we come to a place like this and we're not," Stewart said. "We're actually the underdogs because the guys that we're racing with are guys that race here every week. The work on their cars and tweak their setups every week."
Another thing to take into consideration was the fact that the track has changed since Stewart was here in August.
The track underwent changes, the most notable being the high banking curves.
But there were some things that stayed the same. Stewart was applauded by the thousands of fans, who showed up to watch him race.
Something else that didn't change was Stewart's hard luck at the track.
His first race, which came a year ago, was a bit of a success as he finished third. From there, however, is where things have been a challenge.
When he returned in August to race in a Sprint car, he got a flat tire during the race.
Racing fans might want to mark Aug. 3 on their calendars, because that's when Stewart will be coming back to make amends.
Racing aside, another challenge Stewart and other racers faced this week was the weather.
Rain on Tuesday and Wednesday made for poor and sloppy conditions leading to the race being moved to Thursday.
For some it might have been frustrating, but the colorful Stewart found a way to make everyone laugh.
"I am about as sick of the weather," said Stewart, who is from Columbus, Ind., the hometown of basketball shoe mogul Chuck Taylor. "It makes you not want to get married because they call it Mother Nature for a reason."
His comments got laughs and a few "oohs" but it was all taken in good fun.
Aside from fans watching a NASCAR superstar come to town, there were some other positives that came from the night.
It was announced that more than $5,000 was raised for the Red Cross to support the victims of the Minot flood.
The Minot flood has hit home with the Schatz family - which runs the speedway - because they are from Minot.
"For all you that have family members in Minot," Stewart told the crowd. "Let them know that we are thinking about them."
Last year was Stewart's first time was racing in North Dakota.