Mark Stewart joined AJ Foyt Racing in January of this year. He currently works on the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet driven by Tony Kanaan. We asked him a few questions…
Where were you born and raised?
MS: “North side of beautiful Phoenix, Arizona.”
How did you get involved in racing? Where did it start for you?
MS: “My first involvement in racing was bike racing with my family, we spent a majority of our Friday and Saturday nights at Black Mountain BMX. Then later we ventured into motocross all over the Southwest, mostly Arizona and California. We also went to Manzanita, Speedworld, and Canyon Raceways to watch Sprint cars and Firebird (International Raceway) to watch drag racing.”
What is your job and what does it entail?
MS: “I am the wheel/tire guy and drive the transporter for the 14 car.”
What do you do on race day?
MS: “Race day is all about having the tires completely ready to go onto the car and in the correct order. I meet with my engineer to go over our pit stop strategy for the race and get a run order for the day. After that it’s just making sure the pressures are exact to what the crew chief calls for. Once the race is over, we pack up the circus and head to the next town.”
What did you do before joining the Foyt team in 2019?
MS: “I was the Cylinder Head tech for NHRA Top Fuel driver/owner Terry McMillen.
Greatest thrill of your career (to date)?
MS: “My greatest thrill so far was winning the 2018 NHRA US Nationals (the Indy 500 of drag racing) with McMillen.”
Tell us something that may surprise people about you.
MS: “I was a DoD (Department of Defense) contractor in Iraq for 3 straight years (2007-2010).
What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
MS: “Without a doubt being away from home for long periods. The IndyCar season in itself is not too bad, but when you factor in all the trips for testing in the off season and between races, it really adds up and strains the personal life.”
How do you prepare for a race?
MS: “A nice cold Rockstar Punched and be at the track early. I like to try and be the first pit box with tires laid out.”
What’s your favorite track and why?
MS: “My favorite has to be Indy. Nothing beats the goosebumps when the green flag waves for the 500.”
Do you have a motto/favorite saying?
MS: “Even in losing efforts, you learn.”- NHRA Pro Stock hero Greg Anderson
Who has been the greatest influence in your life?
MS: “My family. It’s easy to get bogged down and into a rut when the season isn't going well. They are the first ones to pick you up and push you to keep going. The support system in invaluable.”
Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of racing?
MS: “It's rare I'm not at a racetrack somewhere. If I'm not, then I'm on my Harley exploring back roads or at a concert. I’m a big metal head.”
Tell us about The Beard. When did you start to grow it? Under what circumstances would you shave it?
MS: “Lol. The beard started around six or seven years ago. I used to keep it short and trimmed, then I just started trimming it less. Then it became useful for my family to spot me on TV. I would definitely feel awkward without it, but I am more than willing to cut it off in victory circle--no matter what race.”
TONY KANAAN on Mid-Ohio: “Mid-Ohio is always a fun race track. It’s a very challenging track. We’re coming from a pretty good race result this past weekend so the team morale is up. We had a good test at Mid-Ohio a couple weeks ago so I feel extremely confident we can have another good weekend, so I’m looking forward to it.”
MATHEUS LEIST on Mid-Ohio: “Mid-Ohio is a fun track. We had a test there a couple weeks ago and I feel like we made some improvements with the car, which is a good sign considering we struggled there last year. I’m looking forward to doing a great race, we need some good results yet this season, so we’ll go for it!”
Last Race: At Iowa Speedway, Kanaan started 13th and finished 10th while Leist started 22nd and finished in 16th. The race start was delayed four and a half hours due to rain; it started at 11:45 PM ET and another rain delay came 55 laps into the race for nearly half an hour. The race ran the entire 300 laps, ending at 2:15 AM ET.
Leist's team awaits as track is prepared for a race start of 10:45 PM local time.
Past Performance at Mid-Ohio: Tony Kanaan’s best start (3rd) and finish (4th) came in 2007 with Andretti-Green Racing. In his first IndyCar race here last year, Matheus Leist started 21st and placed 19th. The Foyt team’s best start is 7th and best finish is 4th -- both with Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2009. In the CART Series (1987-1995), the team’s best start was 12th (1988-A.J. Foyt, 53) and best finish was 2nd (1993-Robby Gordon, 24).
ABC Supply is in its 15th season as primary sponsor of A.J. Foyt’s IndyCar team, making it the longest running team sponsor in the NTT IndyCar Series. The company was founded in 1982 by Ken and Diane Hendricks with just three stores. The company now has over 700 stores and topped $10.5 billion in sales in 2018. ABC Supply began sponsoring the AJ Foyt Racing team with the 2005 Indianapolis 500. The company has leveraged its involvement by entertaining well over 110,000 associates and customers over the past 14 racing seasons. This weekend the company will entertain over 1100 guests.
ABC Supply national account Universal Windows Direct, located in Oakwood Village, Ohio, will be featured on the engine cover of the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet. Guests will receive the VIP treatment this weekend along with a Meet and Greet with Tony Kanaan.
ABC Supply local account Dynamic Restoration, based in Lawrenceburg, Ky., won the ‘Your Name Here’ contest. The company name will be on the engine cover of the No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet. Guests will receive the VIP treatment plus a Meet and Greet with Matheus “Matt” Leist.
The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio will be televised live on NBC on Sunday, July 28, and starting at 4:00 p.m. ET. Qualifying will be broadcast Saturday on NBC Sports Network from 2:30 – 4:00 PM ET. All of the practices will be available on NBC’s subscription-based service, INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold.