NASCAR fans paid their attention to a classic championship battle this past Sunday, but while one driver's career is reaching it's peak, another's is coming to a close. First I would like to congratulate Jimmie Johnson on winning his record tying 7th career Sprint Cup series championship. I will do another post regarding this year's Cup champion, but in this post I want to honor a NASCAR legend who hasn't gotten the credit he deserves in his last season. I simply want to say "Thank You Smoke".
Thank you Smoke for being one of the best personalities the sport has ever seen. When most of today's drivers are quiet & image oriented, you have kept your rugged unapologetic personality. We won't forget the helmet throw at Bristol or you letting us know you would 'bust his ass' when Joey Logano blocked you on a restart. I will never get over the funny comments you made to the media over the years, or the time you got a little grabby with DeLana Harvick. Honestly, my favorite part of having you in the Cup garage is knowing someone out there isn't afraid to tell the truth. Starting in 2017, I hope someone will come along and have half the personality you do, thank you.
Thank you Smoke, for wanting to grow in this sport. I understand that not every driver has aspirations of being a team owner, but thank you for wanting to expand your role in my favorite sport. Investing in a sport is one of the best things any former athlete could do. With your dedication, we now have 4 more competitive Cup Series teams to watch on Sunday's. Outside of Harvick and Kurt Busch, you have also provided an outlet for women in racing with the investment in Danica Patrick. You have done so much for this sport as an owner, and that will only continue with Clint Bowyer and Cole Custer. It has been amazing to watch your organization start from a semi-competitive, two-car-team to winning multiple championships. Feels like it was just yesterday that you took home SHR's first win in the Sprint All-Star race in 2009. Your dedication and investment to NASCAR is underrated, thank you.
Lastly, thank you Smoke, for being dedicated to NASCAR. You're one of the best all around racecar drivers this world has ever seen. You could have raced anywhere. You have won races in USAC, Indy Car, the World of Outlaws, the ARCA Racing Series, the IROC Series, and all three of NASCAR's premier racing divisions. You are quite possibly the most diverse NASCAR driver in history. Instead of racing else where, you chose NASCAR to be your home for 18-years. Thank you for being dedicated to stock cars, and thank you for letting us NASCAR fans witness your greatness along the way. Even through the hardest trials and tribulations in your life, you stayed. Fans can never repay you for that. Thank you for everything you have shown us for the last two decades. I may have never been a huge fan of you, but today and beyond I understand your importance to this sport. I will miss you, we all will. But before I forget to say it... Thank you Smoke, thank you Tony Stewart... We have learned Smoke will always rise.
In honor of Tony Stewart, I want to list some of his accomplishments during his racing career... buckle in this could get long:
1983 International Karting Federation Grand National Champion, 1987 World Karting Association National Champion, 1995 USAC Silver Crown Series Champion, 1995 USAC Sprint Cars Series Champion, 1994 USAC National Midget Series Champion, 1995 USAC National Midget Series Champion, 1995 USAC 'Triple Crown' winner, 3-time Indy Car race winner, 1997 Indy Car Champion, 1999 Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year, Holds the record for wins a rookie season (3), 2006 International Race of Champions (IROC) champion, 2-time Camping World Truck Series race winner, 11-time Xfinity Series race winner, 49-time Sprint Cup race winner, 2002 Winston Cup Series Champion, 2005 Nextel Cup Champion, 2009 Sprint All-Star race winner, and the 2011 Sprint Cup Champion.
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed! May we all celebrate Tony's career together! Thanks for reading and have a great day and Thanksgiving week!