Tony Stewart’s racing career looks to be winding up, as multiple news outlets are reporting. Stewart, who has been turning wheels in anger since he was a kid in kart racing, has not officially announced his departure from racing (that is expected to happen on Wednesday) but after a tumultuous last couple of years that have taken a toll on him physically and mentally (and potentially, legally and financially), it’s not difficult to understand where this decision is coming from.
Stewart has a long list of victories under his belt since appearing on racing’s radar in 1995. In addition to the twenty years of NASCAR, he’s run IndyCar (which he won the driver’s championship in 1997), the Indy 500 (with a best place of 5th), Craftsman Truck, ARCA, IROC, and the Rolex Sports Car Series. Additionally, Stewart ran sprint cars up until last year. It’s an impressive spread of experience and accomplishments, but the last few years have not been kind to Stewart. In August 2013 Stewart broke his right leg in a sprint car crash, which sidelined him for the rest of the season and seemed to affect his 2014 performance, and in August 2014 Stewart was involved in the incident that killed Kevin Ward, Jr. at Canadaigua Motorsports Park. After sitting out several races to come to terms with what happened, it’s safe to say that Stewart’s performance had suffered. He did not make the Chase, does not have a top-five finish, and only has two top-10 finishes this year.
But after Ward’s death, from an outsider’s perspective at least, the formerly hot-tempered Stewart had toned down dramatically. Sure, there was the episode where he backed into Brad Keselowski in Charlotte last year, but compared to past years, Stewart’s infamous temper had been toned down to an almost unrecognizable level. He has also made mention that he has struggled to find enjoyment in racing, which is probably hindered by the memory of Ward’s death. Nothing is for certain, but until the official press release from Stewart himself is put out, we can only suggest that Smoke has come to the realization that it’s time for a change.
(Courtesy of motorsport.com)