It takes a lot to get Tony Stewart up in the morning - never mind early in the morning.

But the driver of the #20 Home Depot Pontiac in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series will have had plenty of inspiration to wake up before the sun rises this morning [Tues. Jan. 8], as he will be participating in the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Torch Relay as it makes its way past the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Fellow Winston Cup driver John Andretti will pass the flame to Stewart at the corner of 16th Street and Georgetown at 7:34 am. EST, whereupon Stewart will run along Georgetown - parallel to the speedway's frontstretch - before passing the flame off to Dave Calabro, sports director for NBC affiliate WTHR Channel 13.

"For me, getting up before the sun rises happens about as often as a blue moon, but the chance to run the Olympic torch past Indy is all the motivation I need to get up early," said Stewart, an Indiana native who continues to maintain a home in Columbus. "I may not ever get this opportunity again, especially at a place that means so much to me. It's a cool deal, for sure - something I'll always remember."

The Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Torch Relay is a 65-day, 13,500-mile journey across 46 states that began in Atlanta Dec. 4. It is scheduled to arrive in Salt Lake City for the Olympic Winter Games Opening Ceremony Feb. 8. In addition to being carried by more than 11,500 torchbearers, the Olympic Flame will travel via automobile, airplane, train, boat, dogsled, skier, horse drawn sleigh, snowmobile, ice skaters and covered wagon.

While this is Stewart's first hands-on support of the Olympic Movement, his Winston Cup sponsor - The Home Depot - has been involved since 1992, when it signed on as a sponsor of the 1994 and 1996 U.S. Olympic Teams and the Centennial Olympic Games in the company's hometown of Atlanta.

The Home Depot is currently a proud sponsor of the U.S. and Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Teams through 2004, as well as the 2002 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. Home Depot's involvement in the Olympic Games revolves around its support of athletes through special job programs that provide full-time wages for flexible, parttime work schedules. More than 280 Olympic and Paralympic athletes and hopefuls have worked in Home Depot stores over the last decade, serving as a source of inspiration for Home Depot associates, customers and shareholders. Nearly a dozen Home Depot athlete-associates will compete in the Salt Lake Games this February.

On Feb. 7, four Indiana Home Depot stores will have their grand openings - Southport, Eagle Creek, Post Road and Noblesville. These are the first Home Depot stores constructed in Indiana.

Founded in 1978, The Home Depot is the world's largest home improvement specialty retailer and the third largest retailer in the Unites States with fiscal 2000 sales of $45.7 billion. The company employs approximately 250,000 associates and has 1,320 stores in 49 states, Puerto Rico, seven Canadian provinces and Mexico.