I'm not going to come out and say CEO Jeff Belskus and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway hierarchy would literally kill to get Tony Stewart into the 500 in May. That would be tasteless and stupid.
On the other hand .... they are willing to do this. So who knows?
Now, I can't say for sure if this is unprecedented, but I'm guessing it is. It's been my experience in 35 years of covering Indy that nothing, and I mean nothing, is as inviolate as the Indianapolis 500 race-day schedule. Take it from someone who's sat through hours of needless rain delays because the Speedway refused to move up the starting time even when it knew inclement weather was on the way.
Yet now it's willing to move up the starting time to accommodate Smoke, who's been offered a ride next May by Roger Penske? Are you kidding me?
That would mean IMS regards Stewart as a bigger potential draw than even Danica was (which, ahem, he is). Or anyone else who's ever run there.
I mean, they might have offered to do this for A.J., if need be, once upon a time. But I'm not entirely sure about even that.
So, Smoke, you are Da Man. Cubed.