Tony Stewart, a 24-year-old racer from Columbus, Ind., made history in 1995 when he became the first driver to claim championships in each of USAC’s top three series in the same season.
Showing his skills on both dirt and paved ovals, Stewart won a total of 13 USAC races en route to the True Value Silver Crown, Loctite National Sprint Car and Skoal National Midget Series titles.
Silver Crown: Entering the season finale at Cal Expo in Sacramento, Calif., Stewart trailed Dave Darland by 155 points and was 147 behind Jack Hewitt.
Hewitt’s race ended on lap 33 when he hit the third-turn wall in the No. 6r Motorsports machine and Darland’s title hopes went up in flames on lap 56 of the 100-lap race when an oil fire left his No. 56 parked on the inside of the track.
With those two out of the race, Stewart needed to finish second to claim the title and he did just that, crossing under the checkered flag behind Donnie Beechler. Driving Glen Niebel’s Boles Chevrolet V-6, Stewart failed to find victory lane during the 10-race season, but he had three runner-up finishes and was outside the top 10 only twice. He edged Darland by two points in the final standings.
Sprint Car: It was a little easier in the sprint-car division where Stewart won seven of the 26 features and beat defending series champion Doug Kalitta by 119 points.
He drove Niebel’s No. 20 sprint car to victory on both dirt and paved ovals and also had four second-place finishes.
Stewart identified the Sept. 3 event at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Ill., as the pivotal race in the title chase.
“I think that’s when we knew we were going to win the championship, after we beat Jack Hewitt at Granite City,” he said.
Midget: Stewart started the year driving for veteran car owner Ralph Potter with whom he won the 1994 title, but switched to the No. 9 Beast owned by Steve Lewis in June.
He went on to win six races, including the prestigious Hut Hundred at the Terre Haute Action Track, and beat Andy Michener by 63 points to claim his second-consecutive series championship.
Prior to Stewart’s amazing 1995 season, “Pancho” Carter was the only driver to win championships in each of USAC’s top three series, but his titles came in different years. J.J. Yeley later duplicated Stewart’s feat in 2003 when he became the second driver to claim the USAC Triple Crown