NASCAR: Stewart To Retire From Sprint Cup, Bowyer Named Replacement


Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Stewart confirmed the worst kept secret in NASCAR when he announced that 2016 would be his final season behind the wheel of the 14 car. He also confirmed that Clint Bowyer would take over the seat in 2017.

“The choice is 100 percent mine,” said Stewart. “More people were trying to talk me out of it. Everyone in their career decides it is time for a change and you know deep down when it is time for a change. Now is that time.”

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The three-time Cup Champion said he could have easily hung up his helmet after this season, but after seeing how much support he had from his fans, he wanted to race one more season for them.”

Stewart who is involved in a wrongful death lawsuit from the family of Kevin Ward Jr. said that had no play in this decision.

“No factors that led to decision other than felt it was the right time,” said Stewart. “We had the opportunity to get Clint Bowyer and when it comes when you seize the opportunity. It’s the right time, right opportunity. When Clint’s scenario came up, you jump on the opportunity.”

In 2008 with Haas CNC racing as a struggling team, Joe Custer threw a hail mary and brokered the deal on behalf of Gene Haas to bring Stewart on board as a 50 percent equity partner and the team was renamed Stewart Haas Racing.

“We had all the fundamental pieces and Tony thought he could come in and get this thing running,” said Gene Haas, the co-owner of SHR. “Without Tony, we would have never turned into the super team that we became with two championships.”

Bowyer who recently became a free agent with the demise of Michael Waltrip Racing saw the chance to take over for Stewart as a great way to land.

“I don’t think I got fired; it just went away,” Bowyer said with a laugh about how he ended up at SHR. “And somehow you landed in a way better situation. Do you ever hear that term when you fall in a pile of cow manure and come out smelling like roses? That’s exactly what this is for me.”

Stewart recalled what he promised his dad Nelson when he was an 8 year-old driving go karts. He promised his father that if it stopped being fun he would give up racing.

He did start the press conference by joking about the press conference yesterday from Haas F1 announcing Romain Grosjean as their first driver. Stewart said we’re all here to announce that he would be driving the second car to the laughs of the gathered media.

He said he wanted a final shot to win the Daytona 500 and the Southern 500.

“We’re not just there to ride around next year,” said Stewart. We’re going to gouge our eyes out and try to win the Daytona 500, Southern 500 and another championship.”

Note: All quotes were obtained from his live press conference on Wednesday.

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