Tony Stewart races his final Cup race 'true to form all the way to the end'

HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Tony Stewart wanted to make sure he and his team had fun on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the final race of his 18-year Sprint Cup Series career.

It was a tough task after Stewart fell two laps down thanks to an ill-handling race car. But Stewart was committed to making sure his crew was having fun under a caution flag late in the race, asking for a show of hands from his crew of those still enjoying the race.

But the three-time champion, who finished 22nd, showed his fiery side too. He dropped a bunch of f-bombs as he was unhappy with a late-race restart order, perturbed why Landon Cassill’s car lined up ahead of him and a bunch of others.

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Sunday was the full Stewart. Minus a top-10 finish.

“I raced,” Stewart said when asked if he thought about anything else while in the cockpit of a Sprint Cup Series car for the final time. “I did what I do every time I get in the car. I didn’t think of anything else other than just racing the race. … At the end the line-up there was, let’s say confusing. I was still screaming about that just like I would on any other race. I was true to form all the way to the end.”

Yes, he was. Though his wish of retiring (relatively) quietly went out the window before Sunday’s race. An extra pace lap was added before the race so that Stewart could be honored in front of the field.

“I’ve said all year I just want to be one of the guys racing,” Stewart said. “To be put out there it’s an honor, but it’s humbling at the same time.”


Stewart said Friday that he wanted Sunday’s race to be about the people he spent his career with. While Jeff Gordon’s car was mobbed on the grid before his final race in 2015, the scene around Stewart’s was more subdued. Stewart was greeted by former crew chiefs Darian Grubb and Steve Addington, posed for pictures with longtime crew chief and current Stewart-Haas Racing competition director Greg Zipadelli and his family, and interacted with countless others.

And after he strapped into his car, he slowly drove down pit road and slapped hands with nearly every crew member from every other team. It was a moment reminiscent of when Dale Earnhardt was congratulated by rival crew members after capturing his first and only Daytona 500 in 1998. The similarity wasn’t lost on Stewart, whose success (49 wins) and temperament made him the closest person the Cup Series had to Earnhardt following the seven-time champion’s death in 2001.

“It made me think back to the moment when Dale Sr. won the Daytona 500,” Stewart said. “It was just an awesome moment.”

But while Earnhardt got a Daytona 500 win, Stewart retires without one, having missed his last shot at a coveted win in 2016 because of a back injury suffered in January. He said Friday that the disappointment of not winning NASCAR’s biggest race exists, but he was looking on the bright side.


“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed that I didn’t win a Daytona 500, a Southern 500 and most of all an Indy 500. But, I look at it and look at where I was when I was 15 years old, and 18 years old, I never even thought I would get a chance to race those races let alone in all three of them have opportunities to win the race.

Tony Stewart finished 22nd in his final Sprint Cup Series race. (Getty)
Tony Stewart finished 22nd in his final Sprint Cup Series race. (Getty Images)

“In a perfect world, yes, I would have loved to be able to cross those three off the list. But at the same time, I look at the big picture and it was pretty damn cool to just have the opportunity to go race those races.”

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!