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GETTIN’ DIRTY: Three-time and defending Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart beat a hasty retreat from Kansas Speedway after qualifying 23rd for Sunday’s race.

Stewart was headed for Lincoln, Neb., where he was planning to run his sprint car in the Ice Breaker Challenge at Eagle Raceway. Stewart won the 1994 USAC Summer Midget Classic at the track.

“I’m pretty excited about getting there and getting a chance to run my sprint car again,” he said. “I’ve got 40 races on my schedule this year, so I’ve got more sprint-car races than I do stock-car races. I’m pretty happy about that.”

Stewart’s roots are on the dirt. He got his start racing midgets in the Midwest and won his first World of Outlaws race in Canada last July. He also owns Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, where he hosts an annual late model race to raise money for charity.


JIMMIE GOES GREEN: Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 will be dressed in pewter-like green on Sunday, the first in a series of new color combinations to pay tribute to American muscle cars.

The color is technically called “Mountain Green,” and was one of General Motors’ classic color combinations from 1967, appearing on every model of passenger car except the Corvette.

Johnson’s team chose the greenish color to coincide with Earth Day, which is Sunday.

“When we were researching colors, it just made sense that we used green for this weekend,” said David Sutphin, who manages sports marketing for primary sponsor Lowe’s.

“I know we have some muscle car fans out there,” said Johnson, who owns a 1968 Camaro. “I’m sure there are quite a few people who still have this color car. I think it’s a cool way for us to connect with those fans.”