The last two seasons have seen two of the most iconic drivers in recent history retire. First, Jeff Gordon retired after the 2015 season. And, now Tony Stewart is another one of those iconic drivers whose legacy will be hard to surpass.
There have been all kinds of accolades and tributes to Tony throughout the season leading up to Homestead.
One of the really cool things we did on our Race Day show on FS1 was a piece on Tony that had Kid Rock doing the voice-over. Fittingly the title of it was 'America’s Bad Ass.' I think that sums up Tony Stewart to a “T.”
Sunday, I found myself reflecting back to the two years – 1999 and 2000 – when I was a crew chief racing against him and then my sixteen years as a FOX NASCAR broadcaster of documenting his career.
There is a concern on my part of who is going to fill the shoes of Tony Stewart. To me, Tony is the last vestige in our sport to the old throwback, hardcore, take no prisoners driver.
Tony tells it like it is. He is down to earth and genuine.
Honestly, if you don’t want to know what he has to say, it’s probably best not to ask him.
Has he stepped across the line a few times? Absolutely he has but that’s okay. That’s what our sport of NASCAR was built on.
The good news is no different than Jeff Gordon who joined our FOX NASCAR broadcast team in 2016, we know Tony isn’t going away. Stewart-Haas Racing has a bright future and Tony will be right there in the middle of it.
When you look back at what this man has accomplished, well the word “amazing” doesn’t even come close enough to a strong enough superlative.
The man has three NASCAR Sprint Cup championships and 49 wins. If that wasn’t impressive enough, there is something that Tony can claim that no one else can. He is on the only person walking the face of the earth to have won an IndyCar championship and a NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.
The way that motorsports is structured today, I don’t know if that will be something ever equaled. I learned a long time ago in motorsports to never say never, but I honestly don’t know if anyone will ever accomplish that.
I think something that really gets lost when it comes to describing Tony Stewart is what a huge heart he has. He equals Dale Earnhardt Sr. in that manner.
Just like Dale, Tony does a lot of things behind the scenes to help others that you will never hear about. Yes, he is America’s Bad Ass when it comes to his personality and the persona he puts out there both on and off the track.
Very few people know that he has the heart bigger than the size of Texas or bigger than the tallest building when it comes to helping those in need or less fortunate.
I think Tony is relieved that his NASCAR Sprint Cup series career is over. I don’t think these last few years have been fun for him and he didn’t have a good time doing it.
Heading into the 2016 season I didn’t really expect Tony to be in a position to possibly win his fourth championship. I did want to see him be competitive one last time and thankfully he was.
Sure, there were some races where he wasn’t as competitive as we thought that No. 14 car would be, but he did win a race in his final year and that once again is something very few drivers can ever say.
So, this is the second year in a row that an iconic name is getting out from behind the wheel of a stock car and I for one am going to miss that personality out there on that race track.