Anthony Wayne Stewart (born May 20, 1971 in Columbus, Indiana) is an American race car driver/car owner/entrepreneur, in NASCAR's Sprint Cup. During his career he has won championships in the Winston Cup, Nextel Cup and IndyCar Series. He has also won championships in USAC and the IROC series.
Stewart grew up racing go karts and was successful very early, winning a World Karting Assoc. championship in 1987. He raced three-quarter midgets with the [UMRA] until 1991, when he moved up to the United States Auto Club (USAC) series with help from one of his karting sponsors and friend Mark Dismore. Stewart was the USAC Rookie of the Year in 1991, fifth in 1993 after winning the Hut Hundred, and was the National Midget series champion in 1994.
In 1995, Stewart became the hottest 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. The highlights of the year were winning the Hut Hundred and 4-Crown Nationals.
When he wasn't racing IndyCars, he raced stock cars. In 1996, Tony made his NASCAR Busch Series debut, driving for car owner 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 Indy Racing League (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 at Phoenix. At that year's Indy 500, Stewart had a good enough car to win his first IRL race, leading 64 laps. However, he trailed 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, ffand 11th, and five DNFs, Stewart did just enough to beat Hamilton for the IRL title. He also raced in a few midget events, finishing thirteenth and eleventh in the 1997 and 1998 USAC national points, and winning the Copper Classic both years. Between his time in USAC and the IRL, Stewart earned the nickname of Smoke, first for slipping the right rear tire during dirt races, and for blowing his engine often during his '97 championship run. Most NASCAR fans and analysts today refer to Stewart by his nickname.
As he had done the previous year, he raced a handful of Busch Series races. This time, he was racing for Joe Gibbs, NFL Hall of Fame head 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 races, he finished in the top 10, and had a 3rd place finish at 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 at 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.
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 was credited with 9th place. He won a pair of pole positions at short tracks, and set a series record for victories by a rookie with three (two of which within the last three races of the year). He finished his first year an unprecedented 4th in points, the highest points finish by a rookie in the modern era (until 2006 when rookie, and current teammate, Denny Hamlin finished 3rd), 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.
Stewart also attempted to race 1,100 miles on Memorial Day Weekend, as he competed in both the Indy 500 during the day and the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte, N.C., at night. His attempt at "The Double" was fairly successful. He finished in the top 10 at both races; ninth in the 1999 Indy 500 and fourth at Lowe's Motor Speedway. However, he only completed 1,090 miles of the scheduled 1,100.
For the second time he ran "The Double" on Memorial Day Weekend, in spite of a 17 minute rain delay at Indianapolis. He finished 6th in the Indianapolis 500 and 3rd in the Coca Cola 600, running all 1,100 miles of the two races.
The 2001 season was not without controversy, however. Jeff 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. He confronted the same NASCAR 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, Greg Zipadelli intervened. His fines and probation periods resulting from these incidents have earned Stewart a reputation of having a hot-temper, and he became NASCAR's "bad boy".
In November, Stewart became the owner of one of the most legendary short tracks in America, Eldora Speedway. Located in New Weston, 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.
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 overall, 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 heading into NASCAR's Chase for the Nextel Cup 10-race playoff.
On August 16 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 31. 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 began climbing the fence separating the fans from the race track after each victory, borrowing IndyCar Series driver Helio Castroneves trademark move. Tony was quoted as saying "I'm too damn fat to be climbing fences," 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. During the 2005 season, Stewart won a total of $13,578,168, including $6,173,633 for winning the championship, the largest season total in NASCAR history. Stewart also went through training to become a deputy sheriff in Alabama.
Additionally he has once again been involved in several on track controversies.
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 Matt 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 20 during Nascar's All Star Race Stewart and Kenseth wrecked again. Each driver claimed it was the other one's 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 proclaimed the new Stewart-Kenseth rivalry as must-see TV. The so-called rivalry was short-lived as Kenseth and Stewart participated as friends in a joint promotional tour for DeWalt and Home Depot; Kenseth also appeared in September at Stewart's Eldora Speedway in the NEXTEL PRELUDE with NASCAR drivers, as well as the ARCA Truck Series event there.
On July 23, Stewart once again was at the center of a media storm. On lap 31 of the Pennsylvania 500, Stewart was accidentally squeezed against the wall by fellow driver Clint Bowyer. Stewart responded by waving his hand in anger, then purposely hitting Bowyer's car. This contact sent Bowyer spinning down the front stretch where he collided with Carl Edwards. Stewart was promptly held one lap by NASCAR for rough driving. He did however pass leader Ryan Newman to get back on the lead lap and eventually rallied to finish 7th and get back in the top 10 in the point standings. After initially refusing to take responsibility for the incident he apologized the next day
Tony Stewart missed the cut to qualify for the 2006 Chase for the Nextel Cup by 16 points He finished poorly at Richmond after wrecking his primary car in practice, and was displaced in the top ten by Kasey Kahne. As a result, he finished the 2006 season 11th in points, his worst thus far in his career, as he had completed each of his seven previous seasons in the top ten in points. Commenting on not being in the 2006 Chase, he says: “It lets us have the ability to take chances and try things ... that we've been wanting to try but just haven't had the luxury to do it. If we were in the Chase we wouldn't have that ability” Stewart won three races in the 2006 Chase (Kansas, Atlanta, and Texas).
The season wasn't totally unkind to Stewart, however. He was a participant in the 30th season of IROC and won 2 of the 4 races (Texas, and the Daytona road course) on his way to capturing the series championship. He won a million dollars for the effort, but made an offer to return his prize money if IROC would hold one of its events at his Eldora Speedway. An offer that would not be fulfilled as the IROC series folded in 2007.
On lap 152 of the Daytona 500, the rear of Stewart's car slid up the track, and when he tried to cut down the track, he smacked the front of Kurt Busch's car knocking both of them out of the race. Tony and the Busch brothers (Kurt and Kyle) were the three leaders for the majority of the race.
In his first Car of Tomorrow race with the Impala SS, Stewart was dominant at Bristol Motor Speedway, leading 257 of 504 laps (green-white-checkered finish), before he experienced a fuel pump problem. At the third Car of Tomorrow race at Phoenix International Raceway, Stewart lead a race high 154 laps, but a late race caution moved Stewart to second, where he finished behind Jeff Gordon. In the following week, Stewart implied the cautions were "bogus" and that NASCAR is rigged like professional wrestling.
On June 4, 2007, Stewart and Kurt Busch had an incident on pit road in the Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway. Busch passed Stewart on the inside, and Stewart smacked Busch into the wall, knocking out Busch, but with Stewart staying in the race. Under the caution, Stewart was on pit road in his pit box when Kurt Busch pulled along side to express his feelings over the incident. One of Stewart's crewmen had to jump out of the way of Kurt's car to avoid being hit.
At the All-Star Challenge at Lowe's Motor Speedway, he finished 5th behind Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, and Jeff Burton. At the Coca-Cola 600, Stewart finished sixth, after having to come in to pit for fuel.
On July 29, 2007, after leading a race high 66 of 160 laps, Stewart won the "Allstate 400 at the Brickyard" race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, just 45 minutes from where he grew up. During the victory lane interview, Stewart was penalized 25 points and fined $25,000 for violating NASCAR's policy on the use of obscene language during interviews during the race.
Tony Stewart is driving the #20 Home Depot Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing through the 2008 season.
Stewart began the 2008 season starting 6th for the 50th running of the Daytona 500, and was only able to come up with a 3rd place finish after being passed on the last lap by Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch.
On lap 109 of the UAW-Dodge 400, Stewart cut a tire and slammed into the turn 3 wall. Stewart came out of the car under his own power, but was helped to the ambulance where he was taken to the infield care center. Stewart had complained about a sore foot from a wreck which occurred the day before in the Nationwide Series race at Las Vegas. Stewart was later announced okay and ripped on Goodyear for not bringing quality tires. The next week at the Kobalt Tools 500, Stewart commented that "Goodyear doesn't give a crap about tire quality."
With 3 laps to go in the 2008 Coca-Cola 600, Stewart cut a tire and saved it from contact with the wall. However, Stewart had to give up the lead to future race winner Kasey Kahne in order to take pits. In the Best Buy 400 Stewart was involved in another crash with Elliott Sadler in which Sadler was turned by David Gilliland and Sadler's no. 19 collected Stewart and 11 other cars including Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Denny Hamlin. Stewart said, "I take 100 percent responsibility -- it's my fault for being anywhere close to Elliott. If I'm within half a lap of him, I expect that to happen. It's my fault -- I'm the one that hit him. When I hit him it caused all the guys behind us to wreck, so it's my fault."
On July 5, during the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, Tony began feeling ill and turned the car over to former Joe Gibbs Racing teammate JJ Yeley, who finished 20th after getting involved in two wrecks in the last 5 laps. Stewart earned his first win of the season in the AMP Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 5th. On the final lap Stewart was passed by Regan Smith. NASCAR declared that Smith had made an illegal pass and awarded the victory to Stewart.
On August 15th, 2008 it was announced at Michigan International Speedway that Ryan Newman signed a multi-year contract to drive the number 4 car for Stewart Haas Racing and will be a teammate to Stewart who will wheel the above mentioned 14 car for SHR. On his radio show on August 18, 2008, Tony Stewart surprised guest Ryan Newman with the announcement that he would not be driving the number 4 car, but rather the number 39 car.
|1||02/16/2008||Camping World 300||Daytona International Speedway|| || || || |
|2||02/25/2008||Stater Bros. 300||Auto Club Speedway|| || || || |
|3||03/01/2008||Sam's Town 300||Las Vegas Motor Speedway|| || || || |
|7||04/05/2008||O'Reilly 300||Texas Motor Speedway|| || || || |
|10||04/26/2008||Aaron's 312||Talladega Superspeedway|| || || || |
|12||05/09/2008||Diamond Hill Plywood 200||Darlington Raceway|| || || || |
|18||06/28/2008||Camping World RV Sales 200||New Hampshire Motor Speedway|| || || || |
|20||07/11/2008||Dollar General 300||Chicagoland Speedway|| || || || |
|25||08/16/2008||Carfax 250||Michigan International Speedway|| || || || |
He frequently makes appearances 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.
During his NASCAR career, Tony Stewart once was told by Joe Gibbs he could no longer compete outside of his racecar. So one time Stewart entered a USAC National Midget race under the pseudonym "Smokey Jones" with the crowd at the track none the wiser. After winning the feature, "Smokey Jones" got out of his car and revealed himself to the crowd as Tony Stewart. He also entered himself in a race once racing the infamous "Munchkin" midget chassis as "Mikey Fedorchek Jr." after buying the Munchkin one night during a card game from Mikey Fedorchek.
|Year||Races||Wins||Poles||Top 5||Top 10||DNF||Finish||Start||Winnings||Season Rank||Team(s)|
|Year||Races||Wins||Poles||Top 5||Top 10||DNF||Finish||Start||Winnings||Season Rank||Team(s)|
|1999||34/34||3||2||12||21||1||10.3||12.6||$2,613,976||4th||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|2000||34/34||6||2||12||23||5||12.4||16.7||$3,175,270||6th||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|2001||36/36||3||0||15||22||4||12.6||17.0||$3,543,043||2nd||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|2002||36/36||3||2||15||21||6||12.6||13.2||$4,695,154||1st||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|2003||36/36||2||1||12||18||5||14.6||13.9||$5,227,503||7th||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|2004||36/36||2||0||10||19||2||12.9||15.3||$6,221,710||6th||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|2005||36/36||5||3||17||25||1||9.9||12.0||$6,987,535||1st||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|2006||36/36||5||0||15||19||4||13.8||16.7||$7,285,281||11th||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|2007||36/36||3||0||11||23||4||13.1||17.6||$6,396,751||6th||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|2008||30/30||1||0||10||15||3||14.5||18.0||$5,482,641||7th||Joe Gibbs Racing|
Three Active Race Tracks Tony Stewart has never won a Cup race at:
California 0 for 15 with a best finish of 4th in 1999 & 2001
Las Vegas 0 for 10 with a best finish of 2nd in 2000
Darlington 0 for 16 with a best finish of 4th in 2001 & 2002
Stewart has won at 19 of 23 tracks he has raced on, didn't win at Rockingham which is no longer active for Cup racing.(8-31-2008)
Paul McMahan drove the #20 for the 2006 National Sprint Tour and 2007 World of Outlaws Sprint Series seasons.
Stewart's USAC midget and sprint cars carry #20 and #21, while his Silver Crown car carries #22.
He is also the owner of Custom Works, a company that manufactures radio controlled oval track cars, and has had a degree of success as a r/c racer himself.