Tony Stewart was back in a stock car at Texas Motor Speedway.
No, this wasn't the start of a NASCAR driving comeback. This was all for charity.
Stewart was taking part in his annual "Smoke Show" Fantasy Camp when he climbed into a stock car for the first time since the 2016 season finale at Homestead _ the end of his 18-year career as a driver on NASCAR's top circuit.
"I haven't even sat in one," Stewart said.
— Dennis Michael (@TexasTCaster) October 11, 2017
Still involved in NASCAR as co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, Stewart said he doesn't missing the weekly grind of driving in the Cup Series. He still does all the open-wheel dirt racing he wants to do, picking and choosing where he wants to go. He also owns Eldora Speedway.
"I have more on my plate now than I ever have, but it's a little different feeling when you're doing what you want to versus what you have to do," Stewart said. "I'm a little more in control of what my schedule is."
The "Smoke Show" fantasy camp has raised more than $1.6 million to support Speedway Children's Charities since Stewart started hosting the event in 2009.
Campers from as far as way as Oregon took part in the event that included two 10-lap competitive sessions in a Team Texas car, and a three-lap ridealong with Stewart. (Before Wednesday night, he hadn't driven on the 1 1/2-mile track since it was completely repaved with changes to Turns 1 and 2 earlier this year).
— SCC Texas (@SCCTX) October 11, 2017