Tony Stewart stands on stage during the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon last month. (AP Photo/John Locher)

TULSA, Okla. -- Tony Stewart is taking it easy on the gas in retirement.

The former NASCAR driver has traded his No. 14 for a tractor, helping maintain the dirt track at the Chili Bowl Nationals Saturday in Tulsa.

“It’s a pretty important job,” he said after chuckling at the thought of driving slowly. 

Stewart said he enjoys being a part of the Chili Bowl. He made his name on dirt tracks before becoming a NASCAR star.

“It’s the only event where you’ve got 300-some-odd cars of the same cars racing for a 24-car starting field," he told The Associated Press. "You’ve got the best of the best who run open-wheel cars who show up for this.”

Stewart plans to do plenty of racing this year, too _ just not on the NASCAR circuit. He’s looking forward to racing on dirt tracks.
“I’ve already got over 70 races that we’ve penciled in on our schedule,” he said. “I think there’s a good possibility that 10 or 15 more might end up on it. We’ll wait and see, but it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s nice to have a schedule that’s more flexible, and I can dictate where I want to go versus three days a week, being on a NASCAR schedule.”

Stewart said he still will be involved with NASCAR.

“I had a great run in NASCAR as a driver, and I loved it, and it was an honor to do that,” he said. “Now, I get the best of both worlds. I get to go back and race dirt again, and I still get to compete as an owner on the NASCAR level. So I’m kind of getting the best of everything.”