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Tony Stewart signed to race at Huset’s July 3
By By Rob Ristesund
Argus Leader Media

June 25. 2013 10:25AM
Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart has committed to racing with the World of Outlaws sprint car series at Huset’s Speedway near Brandon on July 3.

Huset’s owner Steve Rubin confirmed that he has a signed appearance contract with Stewart to compete at the track, setting up one of the biggest events in South Dakota racing history.

“I think that as long as the weather cooperates, this will be the biggest event in the history of the track,” said Rubin, referring to the speedway that first held races in 1954.

“If I had to pick one nationally known driver to race here, Tony Stewart would be the one,” Rubin added. “He’s at his prime now. This isn’t going to be a race where a NASCAR driver shows up just to sign autographs.

“He’s very competitive against these (World of Outlaws) guys who are the best in the sport and he’s won against them (twice in 2012). He’s also a driver who everyone has an opinion of. Fans seem to want to see him win or get beat.”

When Stewart purchased his own NASCAR team in 2009, one of the reasons was to allow him to once again compete in sprint cars, something that is frowned upon by most top-level owners because of the risk of injury.

Stewart grew up on the Indiana dirt ovals and became the first USAC driver to score championships in three divisions (Sprint Car, Midget and Silver Crown) in the same year before moving on to IndyCar, where he also claimed the title before NASCAR.

He holds onto his roots in dirt track racing not only by competing but also by owning a pair of World of Outlaws cars (driven by Donny Schatz and Steve Kinser) and owning one of the premier dirt tracks in the country, Eldora Speedway in Ohio.

“We’re really fortunate to have someone like Tony who gives back so much to dirt track racing,” said Rubin. “He understands first-hand what it’s like to be a dirt track promoter, and when he makes appearances like this it really helps the sport.”

Stewart’s scheduled appearance isn’t the first time a nationally known driver has competed in the area. Jeff Gordon raced at the W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds as a 14-year-old in 1985 and Kasey Kahne won a feature at Huset’s in 1999. But neither driver was near the stardom at that time as Stewart enjoys today.

Stewart’s presence at the track has presented Rubin with a situation all promoters would hope to experience – the possibility of a sellout. Last year in Fargo, a racing appearance by Stewart drew an estimated 10,000 fans.

“We’re trying to figure out right now how many we can hold,” Rubin said of a seating capacity that has been estimated at about 8,000-10,000 in the past. “I think a regular Outlaws race puts us about 2,000 from capacity. With Tony being here, we could have our first sellout ever.”

Added Rubin: “Advance ticket sales really took off after the announcement, and that’s just with general admission. I think it would have been 10 times more if we had reserved seating. We’re working on ways to increase the seating and parking. It’s a bit of a problem, but it’s a problem you like to have.”

NASCAR driver Tony Stewart prepares for the heat races at the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series auto race at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds on Saturday, March 23, 2013 in Chico, Calif. AP Photo/The Chico Enterprise-Record; Jason Halley

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