Anthony Wayne "Tony" Stewart (born May 20, 1971) is a retired American stock car racing driver and current team owner. He is a three time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, having won the title in 2002 and 2005 while driving for Joe Gibbs Racing and in 2011 while driving for his own team Stewart-Haas Racing.
Born in Columbus, Indiana, Stewart grew up racing go karts, highly successfully, winning the world karting championship in 1987. He raced three-quarter midgets for a handful of years before moving up to the USAC series.
In 1995, Stewart became the first driver to win USAC's version of the Triple Crown, earning championships in all three of USAC's major divisions, National Midget, Sprint, and Silver Crown.
When he wasn't racing Indy Cars, he raced stock cars. In 1996, Tony made his NASCAR's Busch Series debut, driving for Harry Rainer. In nine races, however, he had only a best finish of 16th place. He had more success in a one-time ride in the Craftsman Truck Series, where he finished 10th.
Tony was poised to improve his IRL standing in 1997, but struggled with finishing at times. He failed to finish the first three races of a ten race schedule, but recovered to finish second in Phoenix. At that year's Indy 500, Stewart had a good enough car to win his first IRL race, as he led 64 laps, but tailed off near the end of the race and settled for 5th. Tony finally got his first career win at Pikes Peak, where he led all but seven laps of a 200 lap race. He became the leading contender for the series' championship after a bad slump knocked points leader Davey Hamilton out of first place. Despite an average end to his season, finishing 7th, 14th, and 11th, and five DNFs, Stewart did just enough to beat Hamilton for the IRL title.
As he had done the previous year, he raced a handful of Busch Series races. This time, he was racing for Joe Gibbs, the former (and current as of 2006) coach of the Washington Redskins who was having a lot of success with driver Bobby Labonte in Winston Cup. When Stewart was able to finish, he was in the top 10, and had a 3rd place in Charlotte. Stewart so impressed Gibbs that he was signed to drive the majority of the Busch schedule in 1998 to go along with a full-time IRL schedule.
The double duty did not affect his performance in either series. In the IRL, he won twice and finished 3rd in the championship. His season was something of a disappointment, especially as he finished last in the Indy 500 because of an engine failure.
On the Busch side, he finished in the top-five five times in 22 starts. He came extremely close to winning his first Busch Series race in Rockingham, but was beaten on a last lap pass by Matt Kenseth. Stewart finished a solid 2nd place in 2 (of 31) starts, ahead of six drivers with more starts, and had an average finish that was comparable to some of the series' top 10 finishers. Gibbs had enough confidence in Tony that he was moved into Cup for the 1999 season. With that move, Stewart ended his three year career as a full time IRL driver.
Winston/Nextel/Sprint Cup YearsEdit
between the years of 1999-2002. he earn 5.8 million dollars Stewart started his Winston Cup career with a bang, as he qualified his No 20 Home Depot Pontiac in second place in his first Cup race, the Daytona 500. He showed courage in one of the Gatorade Twin 125 races, when involved in a great battle with Dale Earnhardt for the win. The Intimidator came out on top, but Stewart had nonetheless impressed quite a few people with his performance. In the 500 itself, Stewart ran near the front until problems with the car relegated him to a midpack finish.
Stewart spent most of his rookie season wowing people, as his car was often in the top 10. He only failed to finish a race once, and even then he finished 9th. He won a pair of pole positions at short tracks, and tied a rookie record with three victories. He finished his first year an unprecedented 4th in points, the highest points finish by a rookie in the modern aera (since 1972), and only bested by James Hylton, who finished 2nd as a first-timer in 1966. Not surprisingly, he ran away with the Winston Cup Rookie of the Year award.
Tony also attempted to race 1,100 miles on Memorial Day, as he attempted to race the Indy 500 during the day and the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte, N.C., at night. His attempt at "The Double" was mildly successful, as he finished in the top 10 at both races, but he fell 10 miles short of completing all of the miles.
Stewart showed no signs of a sophomore slump in Winston Cup in 2000, as he won six races. However, he "slipped" to sixth place in the standings because of a handful of DNFs, and an increase in the number of competitive drivers, among them his teammate Labonte, who won the Cup championship. Tony also began to get some bad press for his on-track incidents. The best known of these came at Watkins Glen, when he and Jeff Gordon tangled and crashed. Stewart made his displeasure toward Gordon known in an obscenity-laden tirade. The two are heated rivals to this day.
Tony's 2001 got off to a frightening start, as he was involved in a nasty crash in the Daytona 500 where his car violently flipped over several times. He walked away with a broken neck, and didnt think he would be back, but he recovered to win three more races and, as he'd done before, ran near the front most of the season. Statistically, he had a worse season than 2000, but he was the runner-up to Gordon for the Cup championship.
The season was not without controversy though. Gordon pulled a "bump and run" on Stewart to gain a better finishing position in a race in Bristol, and it resulted in Stewart retaliating in a post-race incident by spinning Gordon out on pit road. Stewart was fined and placed on probation by NASCAR. He got into further trouble at Daytona, when he confronted a Winston Cup official after ignoring a black flag. At the same race, he also got into an incident with a reporter, kicking away a tape recorder. This resulted in another fine and longer probation, and earned Stewart a reputation as a hot-tempered individual, which has stuck with Stewart to this day.
He confronted the same official at the race in Talladega after refusing to wear a mandated head-and-neck restraint. Stewart was not allowed to practice until wearing one and only managed to practice after his crew chief intervened. Tony, understandably, earned a reputation for being NASCAR's bad boy.
Tony started 2002 even more inauspiciously than in the previous season, as his Daytona 500 lasted just two laps due to a blown engine. He went on to win twice early in the season but was only seventh at the halfway point of the season. The second half of his season was plagued by an altercation with a photographer after the Brickyard 400. NASCAR put Stewart on probation for the rest of the season. He went on to win the very next week at Watkins Glen, and went on a tear in the final races, finishing consistently in the top five. At the end of the year, Stewart held off a charging Mark Martin to win his first Winston Cup championship.
As defending champion, Stewart managed to have a relatively incident-free 2003. Driving a Chevrolet instead of his previous Pontiac (Gibbs switched among manufacturers), Stewart actually had his worst Cup season, but it was still good enough for seventh in the points. He only won twice that season but led more laps than he had the previous year and was highly competitive in the final races of the year.
In November 2004, Stewart became the owner of one of the most legendary short tracks in America, Eldora Speedway. Located in Rossburg, Ohio, Eldora is a half-mile dirt track known to many as "Auto Racing's Showcase Since 1954." Stewart began racing there in 1991 and continues racing in special events alongside other Nextel Cup drivers and dirt track legends.
Stewart's #1 headline of the year was when he was involved in an altercation with Brian Vickers. At Sonoma, Stewart wrecked Vickers in the middle of the race. However since cameras only found Vickers wrecking in the middle of the field it was originally hard to tell who started it. After the race, a furious Stewart went to Vickers' window, smacking Vickers in the chest. Stewart was led off and summoned to the NASCAR hauler. Stewart was fined $50,000 and put on probation for the rest of the calendar year.
He also still makes the occasional cameo on dirt tracks, appearing regularly at an ARCA race on dirt and at many prominent midget car events, USAC's Turkey Night Grand Prix, and the indoor Chili Bowl Midget Nationals.
In 2004, Stewart teamed with Englishman Andy Wallace and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in a Boss Motorsports Chevrolet to take fourth in the 24 Hours of Daytona sports car race. The result does not show the trio's performance, however: They had dominated the race until the last two hours, when the suspension cracked. With 15 minutes left in the race, and with Stewart at the wheel, one of the rear wheels came off, finally ending their run. In addition to placing fourth, the trio placed third in the Daytona Prototype class.
2005 was one of Stewart's most successful years in the Nextel Cup. He won five races, including the Allstate 400 at The Brickyard, a race that Stewart said he would give up his championship to win, and took with it the No. 1 seed headed into NASCAR's Chase for the Nextel Cup 10-race playoff.
On August 16th Stewart was fined $5,000 for hitting the car of Brian Vickers, after the completion of the Busch Series Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International. Stewart was driving a Busch series car owned by Kevin Harvick Incorporated at the time. Stewart also was placed on probation until December 31st. In an apparently unrelated incident, Kyle Busch was fined $10,000 and placed on identical probation for ramming Anthony Lazzaro's car after the Sirius Satellite Radio race, also at Watkins Glen.
Following his second win of the season, Stewart started a tradition of climbing the fence separating the fans from the race track after each victory, a practice adopted from two-time Indy 500 winner Hélio Castroneves. Tony was quoted as saying "I'm too fat for this," and recently purchased $17,000 worth of exercise equipment to remedy the problem. It also led to sponsor Home Depot cashing in on Stewart's success with some promotions reminiscent of Stewart's Eldora Speedway drivers. After his second full climb of the fence in Loudon, N.H., they ran a discount on ladders and fencing at the stores with a campaign named, "Hey Tony, we've got ladders," where anyone who presented the advertisement in national newspapers in their stores earned the discount. After his victory in Indianapolis, Home Depot presented fans who presented the advertisement of his Allstate 400 win with a discount on purchasing bricks. He mentioned in a press release from his sponsor, "I plan to keep winning races and helping to drive down the cost of home improvement for The Home Depot customers."
On November 20, Stewart won his second NASCAR Nextel Cup Championship, joining Jeff Gordon as the only active, full-time drivers to have won multiple championships. He also is one of the youngest drivers to win multiple championships. He was praised by fellow competitors, notably NASCAR veteran Mark Martin who proclaimed Stewart as the greatest NASCAR driver of his era. During the 2005 season, Stewart won a total of $13,578,168, including $6,173,633 for winning the championship, making this the largest season total in NASCAR history.
Stewart's 2006 season got off to a rocky start. Following a rough Bud Shootout on February 12, Stewart expressed concern to the media about the possibility of aggressive driving resulting in the serious injury or death of a driver. It came during a week in which the racing world remembered the fifth anniversary of the death of legend Dale Earnhardt, who died on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. Just a few days after Stewart's comments to the media, during the 48th running of the Daytona 500, he was involved in a number of incidents with Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch and Kenseth, who he chased halfway across the track to run into the grass. "He has no room to complain," Stewart said of his brush with Kenseth. "He started it, and I finished it.
On May 20th during Nascar's All Star Race Stewart and Kenseth wrecked again. Each driver claimed it was the other ones fault with Stewart saying "if (Kenseth) thinks it's my fault and I (caused the wreck) he's screwed up in his head". Following the wreck several media outlets have proclaimed the new Stewart-Kenseth rivalry as must see TV.
At Daytona, Tony Stewart scored his second consecutive win in the Pepsi 400. Stewart started on the front row with a friend off the track, Boris Said who in one of Daytona's biggest upsets, won the pole spot. Stewart led the most laps but after a final pit stop era, lost the lead. However Stewart roared through the field with 12 laps left, getting past Said who almost won the race, with 2 laps left.
Stewart scored his first win of the Season at Martinsville and was fourth in the points through 12 races in 2006, which was higher than general for Stewart's team which is known for starting slow and finishing fast. Stewart, after some midseason inconsistency, missed the 2006 Chase for the Nextel Cup. But during the Chase he remained a force to be reconded with. He won the 2006 Banquet 400 at Kansas Speedway on fuel milage. 4 races later Stewart dominated at Atlanta Motor Speedway leading 146 laps, and at Texas Motor Speedway leading 278 laps. He finished 2006 11th in points.
In 2007 Stewart started off the year very inconsistant with a crash in the Daytona 500 and followed it up with 3 top 10's. Through 9 races though he had 4 finishes of 25th or worse. It took him half the season to collect his first win in the USG Sheetrock 400. But he continued his success, winning the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard and the Centurion Boats at the Glen. The Watkins Glen race was his next-to-last win with Joe Gibbs Racing.
At the Brickyard 400 however, Stewart would nearly dissolve he and Kevin Harvick's close friendship. Harvick who had not won since the Daytona 500, was looking to be the third driver in history to win Daytona and the Brickyard 400 in the same year. Stewart managed to get by Kevin Harvick's RCR Reese's cups chevy; through contact with 9 laps left. While Harvick rapidly slipped back to 7th place, Stewart would win. Harvick was visibly frustrated after the race, and said that Tony Stewart drives everybody dirty. NASCAR however said Harvick shoved himself into Tony. Stewart did face one penalty by NASCAR however when he was fined $25,000 for swearing in victory lane.
So far he has led more laps than any other driver this year and is up to 4th in points.
In addition to his Nextel Cup gig, Stewart, nicknamed "The Columbus Comet" (for his present hometown of Columbus, Ind.), "The Rushville (Ind.) Rocket" and "Smoke", also is the owner of a World of Outlaws sprint car driven by Danny "The Dude" Lasoski. Stewart has won USAC car owner titles in the Silver Crown division in 2002 and 2003 with J.J. Yeley, and in 2004 with Dave Steele. He also collected owner titles in USAC's National Sprint Car Series with J.J. Yeley in 2003 and Jay Drake in 2004. His current driver lineup in USAC consists of Josh Wise in the midget, sprint and Silver Crown cars and Jay Drake in the sprint car and Silver Crown Series.
Tony Stewart started off his season heartbreakingly. At the Daytona 500, Stewart led to the white flag about to win his first Daytona 500, and NASCAR's 50th anniversary of the race. Just half-way to the checkered flag, Kurt Busch was able to shove Penske teammate Ryan Newman to the lead. Stewart would finish in 3rd place behind Busch and ultimate winner Ryan Newman. Stewart was visibly sad after the race to lose such a big race at the final moments. The finish resembled 2007's Daytona 500 finish, given that the race was decided on the final lap on the backstretch.
In late March 2008, Stewart learned that Joe Gibbs Racing his team, was moving from Chevrolet, to Toyota. Stewart had such a good relationship with chevrolet, that he mutually decided to part ways with Joe Gibbs Racing after the 2008 season. When Stewart was asked where he would go in 2009, Stewart hinted in mid-summer 2008 that he was likely going to race for Gene Haas.
In July 2008, Stewart started the inaugural Daytona 400 mile race sponsored by Coke Zero. In the middle of the race, Stewart said on his radio that he was burning to death in his head, hot, and coughing. Stewart went to the infield hospital very ill, while backup driver JJ Yeley took over Stewart's car; since Stewart started the race in the #20 car, any wins, points, or laps led would be credited to Stewart. Yeley crashed in the final laps, finishing in 20th place, while Stewart's teammate Kyle Busch won.
In summer 2008, while Stewart went winless for spring and summer, Stewart confirmed his move to Haas Racing in August and also confirmed that fellow free agent Ryan Newman also joined the team. In summer 2008, Stewart and Haas confirmed that they joined forces to have a co-owning self-owned team Stewart-Haas Racing for 2009 and future. Stewart's poor performances in spring and summer ruined his hopes of entering the Chase, early in the year.
The only win Stewart had in 2008, was at Talladega in autumn. Stewart's final win with JGR was in the autumn Talladega race. Stewart led to the white flag, but rookie Regan Smith passed Stewart in the final turn to win the race. NASCAR said that Smith made an illegal pass under the yellow line and despite Smith's pleas, they controversially gave the win to Tony Stewart. Smith and team Dale Earnhardt Inc. appealed and fans supported Regan's appeal, but NASCAR ignored the excuses, giving the win to Stewart.
Stewart attended a tearful farewell meeting with Joe Gibbs after the Homestead Miami event and left for his own co-owned team.
In January 2009, Stewart and Gene Haas released Stewart-Haas Racing's team cars and numbers. Stewart would drive the #14 Office Depot/Burger King chevy and Ryan Newman would drive the #39, USA Army/Coca-Cola chevy.
Stewart's teammate Ryan Newman would have a few top tens in the spring races but failed to win. Newman nearly won the 2009 Aaron's 499, but was passed by Carl Edwards and rookie Brad Keselowski. Newman's car was then crushed by an airborne Carl Edwards. Newman finished in 3rd place, learning after the event that Keselowski won the race by wrecking Carl.
Stewart went winless in the spring, but was consistent all year. Stewart won SHR their first win at Pocono Raceway in early summer 2009. This win was very emotional for Stewart because it showed his JGR talents were still in him despite being on a different team.
Stewart would win the team's second race at Daytona in the Coke Zero 400. Stewart won the pole, and led the most laps with help from a friend off the track; former teammate Kyle Busch who won the event in 2008. Tony Stewart was passed by Busch with 2 laps left. In turn 4 of the final lap, Tony Stewart went high above Busch and then controversially moved low, spinning out Busch who wrecked head-on into the outside wall. Stewart reached the finish line first while a wrecking Busch finished in 14th place. Kyle Busch was visibly upset.
Stewart later won at Watkins Glen.
Although winning a few races, Stewart was less consistent than teammate Ryan Newman. Stewart lost any hopes he had of winning the cup title after he lost a win at Loudon in late 2010. In that race, Stewart led to the white flag but ran out of gas in turn 1. Clint Bowyer won the race.
Again Stewart struggled in the spring. The first time Tony Stewart got into the headlines for 2011 was a memorable feud with Brian Vickers at Sonoma. Early in the race on lap 39, Stewart felt like Brian Vickers unfairly blocked him. In the final turn of the track, Stewart shoved Vickers until Vickers was wrecked with other drivers. Stewart was penalized one lap by NASCAR for rough driving as Vickers went to the garage. However when Stewart managed to get back on the lead lap, 49 laps later, Vickers repaid the favor sending Stewart into a giant wall of tires. Stewart was helped down by a crane under a 4 lap caution period. Stewart made repairs and tried to get back out on lap 95 but his car wasn't the same. While the final 3 laps was on Stewart told reporters "I maybe had it coming because I dumped him earlier...I did it because he was blocking. If anybody wants to do that I will keep doing. They can handle it however they want...it was payback but I did it first so...I like Brian I am not holding it all against him. I don't care if it was Ryan Newman I would have wrecked him too."
Tony Stewart through better finishes, made the chase. Stewart then won at Chicagoland for his first 2011 win. The next week, Stewart won at Loudon after a reverse of 2010's finish. Stewart then won at Martinsville, gaining him on leader Carl Edwards. Stewart then won Texas, and then at Homestead he tied with Carl Edwards by one point. Tony Stewart won the tiebreaker title because he had 5 race wins to Carl's 1 win at Vegas.
After his title, Stewart had strong runnings. Stewart nearly won the Budweiser Shootout, getting by Marcos Ambrose for the lead on the final lap. However in a reverse version of 2009's Coke Zero 400, Kyle Busch went high to beat Stewart to the finish line by 0.003 of a second.
Stewart won at Las Vegas, and then managed to beat Kyle Busch, to win the rain-shortened Auto Club 400. Stewart then won the 2012 Coke Zero 400 getting by leader Matt Kenseth on the final lap.
At Bristol, Tony Stewart's team had unluckiness and could not catch breaks. Ryan Newman crashed through contact with Juan Pablo Montoya. In reply Stewart radioed "The 39 car is no jet dryer" in reference to Montoya's jet dryer accident in the Daytona 500. Later, Stewart fought Matt Kenseth for the lead of the race, wrecking. While Kenseth remained in the race, a furious Tony Stewart tossed his helmet on Kenseth's hood while Kenseth left pit road; Stewart then gestured at the fans instantly as he left into the ambulance. Later teammate Danica Patrick wrecked into the wall, due to contact from Regan Smith. In reply, Danica Patrick flipped Smith off as he drove back around the track.
Tony Stewart in early 2013, announced that he lost a few sponsors in 2012 such as Office Depot, USA Army, Burger King, and Coca-Cola Zero. Stewart then announced that the replacements included Bass Pro Shops, Quicken Loans, Hendrick Engines, and regular Coca-Cola.
Tony Stewart started his season on a mixed note by winning the NNS opening race at Daytona for a 7th time in his career. This win tied him with Dale Earnhardt Sr. as 7 time NNS Daytona winners. However his feelings and excitement got mixed with grief and sadness when he saw a final lap accident wound some fans in the grandstands.
In 2013, Tony Stewart got off to a difficult start with multiple bad races and DNFs. When Tony Stewart crashed in the Daytona 500 on lap 42 in a multi-car pileup, he said "The main reason I have not won any of these darn things is because I think more like a businessman for some reason."
At Auto Club, Stewart had his out-breaking race of the spring part of the season. With 13 laps left, Stewart was in second place, trying to get around leaders Joey Logano and Kyle Busch but Logano blocked Tony who lost his speed, finishing in 22nd place. A furious Stewart went down pit road shoving Logano after the race, igniting a brawl, and yelling at a reporter. Stewart received basically no support in his accusations stating that Logano had no reason to block. Stewart was put on watch by NASCAR until December 31st and was given probation for one year until December 31st.
At Richmond a few weeks later, in a similar fashion to his Auto Club feud with Logano, Stewart was bumped out of the way from a top ten spot by Kurt Busch. After the race ended, Stewart sparked a car shoving match between him and Kurt Busch. On pit road, Stewart argued with Busch turning the attention given to race winner Kevin Harvick, to the argument. Stewart was told by NASCAR after the race that if he did not calm down his tempers he would be indefinitely suspended from the sport.
In late 2013, Tony Stewart was visibly emotional when teammate Ryan Newman won the Brickyard 400 after some domination. This win was the first Brickyard win for Stewart and Gene Haas as owners.
Stewart's luck turned around at Dover when he won the FedEx 400 Benefitting Autism Speaks passing leader Juan Montoya with 3 laps left. A few days before the Brickyard 400, Tony Stewart was involved in a Sprint Car crash that sent him flying into the catch fence and flip over five times. He would walk away unharmed but told reporters that he is frustrated on how much this thing is happening in the open when sprint car races and adding that the sprint cars are the very things that killed his friend Jason Leffler in early 2013.
On August 7, 2013, Tony would compete in another Sprint Car race at Iowa. He was then caught up in a four car crash that resulted in him breaking his leg. It was announced a few hours later that he would not be able to compete in the next race at Walkins Glen International Raceway for Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race. Max Papis was hired to sub for Stewart at the Glen with Mark Martin taking over the rest of the season except for Talladega when Austin Dillon will drive.
While Stewart recovered, he learned in late August that his business partner, Gene Haas was interested in hiring Kurt Busch. Initially Stewart was worried about the time-frame but supported the idea when Haas promised to fund and sponsor Busch himself using his world-wide automation franchise. Kurt Busch ultimately accepted the offer, signing a multi-year extension to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014. At a Stewart-Haas Racing meeting, when Kurt Busch showed up at a meeting with his future teammates, Haas, and Stewart, the deal was official. In September 2014, it was announced that Kurt would be numbered 41 in 2014.
This deal outraged many fans who believed that Stewart and Haas, who released driver Ryan Newman from his 2014 contract due to excuses that SHR had no fundings for 4 cars, deceived Newman into departing for Kurt. However Newman defended the team stating that "I do not think that is the case."
At Richmond, Stewart attended his first race since the Pocono event in August. Stewart on a #14 themed wheelchair, decided to direct teammate Ryan Newman during the race. Ryan Newman led with 4 laps left, but a caution came out when Clint Bowyer spun out. Newman lost the race and thus with it; his final spot in the Chase. However rumors arose of Clint Bowyer spinning his car on purpose, and MWR teammate Brian Vickers making an unexpected pit stop; by orders from team Michael Waltrip Racing. A NASCAR investigation proved this true, fining Waltrip Racing $300,000 taking away 50 driver and owner points, and putting all crew chiefs on probation until December 31st. Although Michael Waltrip claimed that he had no idea that his team was conspiring to alter the race, he accepted the penalties, apologized and showed he had no knowledge of the scandal by indefinitely suspending vice-president Ty Norris. The penalties put Newman back in the chase. When Stewart learned this he said "I am glad NASCAR restored Newman to his rightful spot."
Before the season it was announced that Stewart had been medically cleared to race. Stewart mentioned during Pre-Season Thunder that his leg would be about 65% healed going into Daytona. Stewart ran the Sprint Unlimited, but was collected in a nine-car crash. This was something that Stewart had dreaded, but exited his race car under his own power, and without any pain. Stewart entered the Daytona 500 in his backup car, starting from the rear of the field. After the 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay, the race resumed, but just shy of half way, Stewart's fuel pickup began to fail. He and his crew took his race car behind the wall, got the problem fixed, and finished the race 27 laps down.
The next week at Phoenix went particularly well for Stewart. After running in the top 10 most of the day, a late string of cautions set up restart after restart. Stewart opted to come down to pit road to be serviced each time the caution was thrown, subsequently losing track position. On the last and final restart, Stewart had 4 fresh tires and was starting 19th. He gained 3 positions, from 19th to 16th, where he finished. Stewart gained 12 spots in the standings, from 32nd to 20th.
At Las Vegas, Stewart struggled with the handling of his car and finished 33rd, four laps down.
At Bristol, Stewart missed the second round of knockout qualifying and started 37th. However, with a fast racecar, he was able to make his way up the field and finish fourth, his first top five finish since the previous year's Brickyard 400. Stewart was the highest finishing Chevrolet in the race.
Stewart qualified 10th at Auto Club. After a spin early in the race, Stewart was running 12th at the last caution, coming off of pit road 2nd and lining up 4th for the green-white-checkered finish behind Paul Menard, his own driver Kurt Busch, and Landon Cassill. On the final restart, Stewart and Busch battled for the win, only to be passed up by Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson. Stewart finished third not being passed by Matt Kenseth, his fith top 5 in a row.
Stewart had a strong run at Pocono. He qualified in the top five and ran in there nearly the whole race, before a speeding penalty on pit road left him with a 13th-place finish. When Stewart was asked about what happened he said "It was a 100% driver error. Last week I cried over a 6th place finish and I just threw this one away. 100% driver error. My fault."
At Michigan, Stewart ran in the top five. Late in the race Stewart tangled with rookie Kyle Larson when Larson threw a block, leaving Stewart with an 11th-place finish. Stewart replied by bumping Larson under yellow and side-swiping him. The next week Stewart said "He'll learn not to block me. One way or another he'll learn like I did at his age."
After the Kevin Ward Jr. tragedy in mid-August, Stewart skipped Watkins Glen, Michigan and Bristol. He was subbed by Regan Smith and Jeff Burton for those races. Despite having missed three races and thus losing too many points to recover lost points in the final 2 races, NASCAR granted him a waiver allowing him to still be eligible for the Chase if he won in the final two 'regular season' events, which he failed to do, causing him to miss the Chase for the third time in his career.
At the end of the October Charlotte race, Stewart was hit on pit road by Brad Keselowski, and retaliated by reversing into him. Stewart was fined $25,000 and placed on probation until November 12.
At Martinsville, Stewart almost won. On the final restart, he pulled out in front of Dale Earnhardt Jr. but having older tires, got over-taken by Earnhardt with four laps to go. Stewart finished 4th but stated that after what he went through from August to then, finishing 4th felt like a win to him.
Stewart finished the year with a last-place finish at Homestead-Miami, ending his 15-year winning streak. As a driver, 2014 was Stewart's worst year statistically. The season wasn't a total loss for Stewart, as he did win the Owner's Championship with Kevin Harvick. In an interview the day before the race, Stewart blamed his subpar year on the new rules package, saying it did not complement his driving style. He also dismissed countless claims that his poor showing had anything to do with his 2013 leg injury.
Stewart did not start the 2015 season as hoped, as he had a bunch of poor finishes. He showed sighs of a comeback after qualifying runs of 4th at Indianapolis, 5th at Pocono, and 3rd at Watkins Glen, and 5th at Michigan.
On September 27, 2015, Bob Pockrass reported that Stewart announced plans to retire from racing at the conclusion of the 2016 season. Stewart formally made an announcement on September 30 confirming this and announcing that Clint Bowyer would replace him in the No. 14 in 2017.
Return to sprint cars Edit
In July 2014, Stewart returned to sprint car racing in his No. 14 sprint car; the very car that broke his leg in 2013. When asked why he returned, Stewart said he loved racing sprint cars too much to leave. Stewart silenced his critics by dominating and winning a sprint car race at Tri-City Motor Speedway in a huge comeback story. After the race Stewart said:
“ It was a confidence boost for me. When you haven't won and haven't been necessarily a contender, you start questioning what is it in the equation that you're missing. Is it something that you're doing or not doing as a driver? To be able to win and have two good runs like that in a car that I haven't been in for almost a full year now, that was a huge confidence boost. ”
Commercials Tony Stewart has starred in Edit
- Tony Stewart inside the race car and every time he tries to take a bite of a subway sandwich the fuel gauge goes from E to F (Subway)
- Tony Stewart appeared in a commercial celebrating his Brickyard 400 victories in 2005 & 2007; it was discontinued after Tony Stewart left Joe Gibbs Racing in late 2008.
- Tony Stewart frequently appears with drivers for Coca-Cola, as the Coke family. Frequently they take rides on a Coca-Cola themed van, around a racetrack for several laps, drinking Coke inside; Stewart is the driver since he is the most vocal supportive to Coca-Cola out of the other drivers. Sometimes during the ride, the commercial shows the drivers singing stuff such as "99 Bottles of Coke", and "Coming Around the Mountain" to pass the time. A 2013 commercial showed Tony having to swerve the van around to break up a fist-fight between Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin in reference to the two drivers' (Logano & Hamlin's) feuds in early 2013.
- In 2013, Tony Stewart appeared with Jenson Button in a Mobil-1 commercial doing some neat stretches. Stewart competes with the driver in good stretches; Stewart wins the competition by "oiling" his thighs and then doing a split move while eating "soda cookies." Stewart later admitted that he had a gymnast help him do the split.
- In late 2012, Tony Stewart appeared in a commercial with other drivers, him telling the audience how it is "not pretty to be upside-down" as an in-car camera plays Tony Stewart's horrific Talladega crash and what was inside the car at the moment of the flip.