Tony Stewart on Newman, Danica, Junior ...

May, 17, 2012

CONCORD, N.C. -- Here's what was learned at Tony Stewart's news conference Tuesday to promote the eighth annual Prelude to the Dream charity race on June 6 at Eldora Speedway:

•  Stewart wants to keep Ryan Newman, whose contract is up at Stewart-Haas Racing after this season, in 2013. It all hinges on sponsorship, but if that can be found SHR will have Stewart, Newman and Danica Patrick next season.

This came on the heels of a report that Newman was given permission to look for options if sponsorship isn't found.

"Obviously, we're working on the sponsorship to make sure we have the funding to keep that going," Stewart said of Newman's No. 39 team. "I have every intention of keeping him for next year. I like him as a teammate. He's been somebody from day one that believes in what we're doing.

"He can still win a lot of races. I think he can still win a championship with us. I have every intention of hiring him back for next year."

•  Stewart and Darrell Waltrip called Danica Patrick's 31st-place showing in the Sprint Cup race and 12th-place finish in the Nationwide race one of the best first-time attempts they've seen at Darlington Raceway.

"She showed maturity that a lot of drivers don't show the first time at Darlington," Stewart said. "It's hard to not make a mistake at Darlington. She ran about 600 laps and only had a couple of places where she got herself in trouble. I thought she showed her worth there, and I think she showed her talent level."

•  As successful at Stewart's charity event has been -- this year it benefits the Feed the Children program -- the three-time Cup champion would do anything to have Dale Earnhardt Jr. participate.

"If he called in the next 30 minutes, I'd have him a car in the next 35," Stewart said.

Earnhardt's standing reason for not participating is he doesn't like to compete on dirt. But if Patrick can give it a whirl, you'd think NASCAR's most popular driver could.

"The Prelude has always been an example of showing people why these drivers got to the level they are, because they really do pick it up real quick," Stewart said.

•  Remember when Stewart went on his sarcastic tirade about not wrecking enough cars at Talladega? Well, he really doesn't like wrecking cars, particularly at Eldora.

Apparently, there is a $2,000 crash clause he has to pay to cover the expenses of each car damaged. That could reach more than $50,000 if the entire field crashed.

"You can't expect guys to bring nice race cars like that and not do something," said Stewart, who had to pay $10,000 one year. "I don't usually think about it until after the race. Then I cringe."

•  Drivers scheduled to compete in the Prelude include Stewart, Patrick, Newman, Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Bobby Labonte, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon, Steve Kinser, Donny Schatz, Cruz Pedregon, Ron Capps and Tony Kanaan.

In case you aren't aware, Feed the Children is a U.S.-based charity that has helped more than 365,000 families since 2009 through its Americans Feeding Americans Caravan.

David Newton | email

ESPN Staff Writer



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