Well if you have been alive this week you have heard the news. Multiple sources are confirming a rumor that started to spread about a month ago. Three-time Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart will retire after the 2016 season. Stewart, who has undoubtedly had a Hall of Fame worthy career not only in NASCAR but in motor-sports, will be a huge loss for the racing community. Over the last 17 years, Stewart has had a very successful career. In 582 Cup Series starts Stewart has 48 wins, and 299 top-10 finishes. Add to that the 1999 Rookie of the Year award, plus championships in 2002, 2005, and 2011. Stewart currently holds the record for wins in a rookie season with 3, and is still the only driver to have won a Winston Cup and Sprint Cup championship. With all of this said, here's how I feel about it.
Over the last 3 seasons Tony Stewart has battled adversity. First, in 2013 where he broke his leg in a terrifying sprint car accident. Next, 2014 where he was involved in an accident that took the life of local dirt track racer Kevin Ward Jr. Lastly, in 2015 he is in the middle of his worst season yet, competitive wise. Stewart hasn't been himself since 2012, the year after his shocking 2011 title run. Now, a few months a go I talked about this very issue. Should Stewart call it quits and end a very successful racing career. At that point I stated that I think Stewart should give it another season or two and call it quits, and today I still agree with that.
Honestly, I think this decision is the best decision for Stewart to make. Though I know many Smoke fans hate to see their hero leave, I myself knows how it feels as I watch Gordon get closer and closer to his final race. Stewart needed to make this decision. This is the 3rd year in a row where either an incident or just bad luck has inhibited his performance. As hard as it is to see on track, it doesn't look like anything is changing performance wise for Stewart. This season through 28 races, he still has yet to find victory lane and has only captured two top-10's with no top-5's. We must remember Stewart is a team owner, which means at time you have to do whats best for the company. At the end of the day I think fans should agree with the decision, and also realize Stewart is 44 now, that makes him one of the oldest drivers in the garage. Stewart wasn't far from retirement regardless of his luck the last few seasons.
Now, in regards of missing Stewart, I am actually shocked about how I feel. I have never been a big Tony Stewart fan, but it honestly saddens me to think that after next season he won't be on track anymore. Losing Gordon and Stewart in back-to-back seasons is definitely a huge blow to the sport. I have missed Smoke running up front, something I never thought I would say. I guess after watching him for years and seeing him win, you miss the performance that use to be. I grew up watching him wheel the #20 car and transition into a championship owner with the #14 team. It has been a fun ride to watch, and one that deserves the up-most respect.
Overall, as NASCAR fans we should be lucky we even got to witness Stewart over the years. The man can literally driver anything, and I mean ANYTHING!! In my opinion he has to be the best overall motor-sports driver to ever step foot inside of a Sprint Cup car. I am just honored that he chose to stick with NASCAR and make a career out of it. Many of us forget he is an Indy Car champion, and he could have stuck with the open-wheel career path, but nope he decided to go stock car racing. So let's all be honored he was here for 17 years, and gave us some of the most exciting finishes in history. Stewart will be missed, his racing ability, never give up attitude, and who can forget that unique personality. Even if Tony Stewart doesn't find victory lane this year or next, I will assure one thing. Stewart is a legend and future Hall of Famer, and should be considered one of the best talents NASCAR has ever seen. At the end of the day no matter the result I guarentee... Smoke will rise.
Thanks for reading!! Let me know your thoughts on Stewarts retirement, is he making a good or bad decision? Hope you all have a great rest of your day!
(PICS NOT MINE, USED FROM VARIOUS SITES) (Stats: Racereference.com)