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Stewart takes a spin; rain slows Indy practice

Did it take any arm twisting to put Tony Stewart back in an open-wheeled car for a spin this week around Indianapolis Motor Speedway?

"No," said Stewart, a second-year Winston Cup star and former Indy Racing League champ. "Perhaps my little finger."

Stewart, co-owner of the car driven by Jeret Schroeder, took his 12-lap ride Tuesday. Stewart's top lap was 218.2 mph.

"Well, I wanted to play a bit," Stewart said. "And I also felt that I was not working enough with Jeret. I wanted to get a feel for the car and feed that back to Jeret. We're not where we want to be, but Jeret is doing a good job."

Stewart had not driven an Indy car since finishing ninth in last year's Indy 500.

"I wanted Tony to tell me if the car was doing anything weird," co-owner Larry Curry said. "The only thing he said was wrong was the gear (ratio)."

Stewart, who will race Saturday in The Winston, emphasized that his Indy run was not in violation of his Winston Cup contract with team owner Joe Gibbs. "That's probably the only time you will see me in the car," Stewart said.

Schroeder said: "It's good to get his feedback. But really, he misses this place and he wanted to play."

In other Indy 500 news, Wednesday's practice, scheduled for six hours, was abbreviated by rain to 33 minutes and 18 cars.

Schroeder's fastest lap was 218.123, 26th in the field. Juan Montoya turned the fast lap at 221.566. Buddy Lazier was next at 221.510, followed by Scott Sharp at 220.885, Mark Dismore at 220.395, Jimmy Vasser at 219.800 and Greg Ray at 219.674.

CART: Michael Andretti has a new target _ his father.

The second-generation driver picked up his 39th victory in a Champ car at the Firehawk 500 in Motegi, Japan, last weekend, tying him for third with Al Unser.

Mario Andretti, who retired with 52 Champ car victories, is second.

A.J. Foyt is at the top with 67. Michael Andretti's 39 victories are a circuit record, founded in 1978 after Champ cars already were being used.

WINSTON CUP: H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, president of Lowe's Motor Speedway, has picked Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win The Winston. Wheeler has correctly picked the race's winner six times in 11 years.

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