“Smoke” is coming to Cocopah Speedway.
But don't call the fire department.
This “Smoke” is three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony “Smoke” Stewart, who is headed here for the upcoming Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series National Tour Cocopah Cup Challenge presented by Cocopah Casino, on March 1 and 2.
The Tony Stewart Racing website lists Stewart's racing schedule for 2013, and under TSR Dirt Events, Stewart is listed as coming to Cocopah Speedway for the Friday and Saturday ASCS 360 winged sprint car shows.
Stewart will already be in Phoenix, competing in the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, the second stop on the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup calendar. That race is scheduled Sunday afternoon, March 3. He will make the trek back and forth to Cocopah Speedway to compete in the Friday and Saturday night events, driving the No. 14, Chevrolet Performance Parts sprint car.
“I think we are again on a national stage, showing that Cocopah Speedway is legitimate and for real,” said Greg Burgess, Cocopah Speedway's director of operations, talking about Stewart's plans to race here.
“He could have said no or picked elsewhere but he didn't ... he picked Cocopah Speedway!”
Stewart definitely has a choice of where to spend his Friday and Saturday nights when he gets to Phoenix, with another sprint car event being staged at another track just up the highway from Phoenix International Raceway.
“NASCAR star Tony Stewart is coming to Cocopah Speedway! This will be one awesome kickoff for the Cocopah Cup Challenge presented by Cocopah Casino!” continued Burgess.
“I have said from day one that we have a great foundation here and this speedway can be one of the very best and attract the very best.
“Again, I think this community should be very proud of what this facility is and what is going on with it right now. I think it just says that Cocopah Speedway can compete on a national level. With the Cocopah Casino and the Cocopah Resort & Conference Center across the street from the speedway it makes us truly a destination.”
Burgess also noted that when NASCAR drivers get away for a night or two of dirt track racing, it is not uncommon for other drivers to come along, too, “so I would not be at all surprised to see another NASCAR face or two. It has happened before.”
In the past, big names in racing who have come to Cocopah Speedway include Steve Kinser, who was at the track then known as Yuma Speedway for a World of Outlaws event in 1989. He won that race.
Kinser now drives for Stewart on the World of Outlaws tour.
Also, USAC Triple Crown champion and NASCAR driver J.J. Yeley, originally from Phoenix, raced on the Somerton oval in the early 1990s as a teenager before moving up the racing ladder.
Yeley now drives for Max Q Motorsports in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series.
Yeley's USAC Triple Crown — winning the Midget, Sprint Car and Silver Crown championships all in the same year — in 2003 was only the second time the feat had been accomplished in USAC history.
The first driver to do it was Stewart in 1995.
Although Stewart spends the majority of his time focused on his NASCAR operation, Stewart-Haas Racing, he is known to get back to his grass roots, dirt track racing, as often as he can. In 2012 Stewart was no stranger to the ASCS series, winning two events.
Also, last weekend Stewart drove a 410 winged sprint car at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla., in the UNOH All Star Circuit of Champions, notching 10th and third place finishes in the Friday and Saturday night events.