NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Tony Stewart has had a rough couple of years; but he plans to change that with some fun after he retires from the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit at the end of the year.
The former Sprint Cup Champion is part owner in his racing team – Stewart-Haas and owns a race track of his own at Eldora; but he has no plans to sit on the sidelines watching his drivers run around the track. Stewart has plans to get back to where it all began – the dirt. He hasn’t ruled out the occasional NASCAR sanctioned event; but has vowed that his days behind the wheel at an Indianapolis 500 are over.
In the past Stewart would spend his off time racing on dirt tracks all over the country; but all of that stopped after a tragic accident in August 2014 at Watkins Glen when a fellow driver Kevin Ward Jr was killed after Ward crashed into the wall and then exited the car and was struck by Stewart on the dark track. Stewart has not raced on the dirt since that incident. In 2013 Stewart himself was involved in a bad crash that broke both the bones in his lower right leg.
Speaking on his future plans; Stewart said, “I plan on running a lot of dirt races after the end of the season when I retire from the Cup stuff.”
The three time Sprint Cup Champion came to NASCAR in 1999 with Joe Gibbs Racing after running the open wheel cars of the Indy Racing League. Stewart’s most recent championship in 2011 was won at the final NASCAR race in Homestead by winning the race and a tiebreaker with fellow driver Carl Edwards. In an age of multiple car ownerships, it was the first time in nearly 20 years that a driver owner had won a championship
The Columbus, Indiana native still makes his home in Indiana. Since making his racing start at the Westport, Indiana racetrack at the age of seven, Stewart has racked up 12 driver championships – his first at age eight. He is the only driver to ever win the United States Auto Club – USAC – “triple crown” – the Sprint, Midget, and Silver Crown championships.
Steart’s career becomes even more impressive when his championships make him the only driver to have won a championship in stock cars – NASCAR -, Indy cars, and the open wheel midget cars. Many of NASCAR’s drivers come from the midget and sprint cars; but all but a handful have driven in both the Indy car and NASCAR circuits.
As an owner Stewart has won 18 championships.
Stewart is the first driver to “run the double” – drive 500 miles in the Indy 500 at the Brickyard in Indianapolis and then fly to Charlotte, North Carolina to run the Cocoa Cola 600 in NASCAR. It is a feat he completed twice.
Stewart has also won Rookie of the Year honours in Sprint Cup, USAC, and at the Indianapolis 500 – Indy car.
photo credits: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CYpaMEKUsAAdA40.jpg
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