|Stewart says, "No thanks."|
Last week, Penske Racing owner Roger Penske offered to field a car for Stewart in next May’s race, triggering a firestorm of speculation about a potential Indy-Charlotte doubleheader by the former Indy Car and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.
Stewart ended the speculation last yesterday, telling USA Today, "As much as I would like to do it, we just don't have the time to do it proper. The IRL is so competitive now, you're not going to just show up like drivers used to do in the past and be competitive. These guys don't leave anything on the table. You're not going to stroll into the Indy 500 with these guys who race every week and be as competitive as they are.”
Stewart called Penske’s offer “humbling” and “a great opportunity,” but said his commitments as owner/driver at Stewart Haas Racing preclude him from accepting.
“It's very hard when you're running three Cup teams,” he said, drawing a chorus of boos from race fans hoping to see him attempt both races for the first time since 2001. “The obligations that we have, making sure that we're doing the right things… we have a lot of people that depend on us.
“It's kind of like being at Thanksgiving dinner,” said Stewart. “My plate is finally full. I don't know if I can add anymore to what I have right now."
He refused to close the door on a future Indy effort with Penske, however, saying, “I'm not going to do it this year, but there's nothing saying that down the road that I may not take him up on that same offer.”