A STAR driver searching for a new American ride hopes a fruitful Australian summer can reignite his career across the Pacific.
Indianapolis-based Shane Stewart, who parted from American team CJB Motorsports in August, is determined to clinch his second South West Conveyancing Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic.
The 43-year-old found the classic podium in 2005, 2007 and 2009 before finally saluting a decade ago.
Stewart said he'd long wanted to return to Australia after a hiatus.
"I always told myself that if I had another opportunity, and it was a good opportunity, I'd come back to Australia," he said.
"As you get older and have a family your priorities change. When you're doing 90 races a year, like we do in the states, you're looking for a break in the off-season.
"I had a bit of a miserable year in that I don't have a full-time ride in the states at the moment so another reason I'm coming back is to try to make some money."
Stewart, who is driving for Geelong-based team Dickson Motorsport, described the classic as "Australia's Knoxville Nationals".
He told The Standard the race was becoming "harder and harder" to win but felt confident in his car and team.
"I feel like last time I was here, I had a couple of strong runs and then on the final day we got caught up in a crash and it hurt our points," Stewart said.
"We then had a motor issue and weren't able to finish. But our car speed was good and fast.
"I feel like I've got a similar car setup - it's the same kind of car. Hopefully it goes smooth and comfortably and we have some good, strong finishes.
"You also need that bit of luck on your side."
Stewart said the strong international contingent proved how much Americans valued the race.
Stewart's bid to qualify will begin on Friday night at Premier Speedway.
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.