Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion and 1997 Indy Racing League champion Tony Stewart has not yet commented on suggestions that he should return to open-wheel racing with a one-off Indianapolis 500 appearance in 2013.
Leading NASCAR and IZOD IndyCar Series team owner Roger Penske made a public offer to Stewart at the weekend to provide a car and crew should 'Smoke' wish to make an Indy 500 run next year, possibly as a back-to-back outing together with the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 race run later in the evening on the same day in May t Charlotte Motor Speedway.
"You're a car owner," Penske said in his victory speech as the winning car owner in the Sprint Cup victory banquet at the weekend. "You're a race driver, you're a track promoter - how about doing the double at Indy this year? Are you available?"
Initially dismissed as just a jokey aside during a banter-filled week of post-season celebrations, Penske maintained later that the offer was perfectly serious should Stewart be up for it.
“If he wants to do the double, I'd put him in it,” Penske said afterwards. “He and I have talked about it. I guess I gave him an official [offer] tonight.”
Even though the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has set up a 'Smoke2Indy' petition on its website, it's considered unlikely that Stewart will pick up the offer next year.
Previously there had been speculation that Danica Patrick - who will join Stewart's Sprint Cup team full-time in 2013 after a season in the second-tier Nationwide competition - might be persuaded to return for a one-off appearance in the Indy 500 next season, but this has been ruled out with Stewart-Haas Racing saying that it wanted Patrick to focus on her Cup campaign and not get distracted.
Brian Vickers is another NASCAR driver who has made no secret of his desire to run in the Indy 500.
"I'm serious about Indy. Would do it in a heartbeat, was not just tweeting to be funny," said Vickers on Monday. He currently shares the #55 Cup car part time with Mark Martin and team owner Michael Waltrip, and will join Joe Gibbs Racing for a full Nationwide Series campaign in 2013.
New team to debut in 2013 Sprint Cup
A new team will join the NASCAR Sprint Cup field in February at Daytona International Speedway for the first race of the 2013 season, the famous Daytona 500.