Tony Stewart has been a force on and off the track
Looking at you
Tony Stewart has found success in whatever he has attempted in his racing career. He’s a three-time NASCAR Cup champion and also has an Indy Racing League title in his trophy case — a seemingly impossible double achievement that serves as a testament to his pure talent and intense determination. But he’s dedicated to racing in more ways than just competing on the track. Stewart owns teams in Sprint Cup and other series, as well as a racetrack. He’s dedicated to helping fans, especially those in need, and has been involved in numerous charity initiatives — both public and private — including his annual charity all-star race. With a combination of sharp wit and business acumen, he’s redefined what can be a driver’s role in the sport — and proved that no one needs to settle for one role in the sport. With that in mind, here’s a look at his top 10 accomplishments:
Six Cup wins in 2000: Stewart has always been capable of firing off a string of top finishes, and that was perhaps never more evident than in 2000. That season, he won a career-best six of the series' 34 races and finished sixth in the standings. If not for being hampered by five DNFs, he might have been crowned champion, too. He also posted 23 top-10 finishes, 12 of them top-fives, and posted an average finish of 12.4 that year.
If you could bottle success
Carries 14-year win streak: Stewart has been nothing if not consistent in his NASCAR Cup career. He has finished outside the top 10 in the standings only once since debuting in 1999, and that was in 2006 when the Chase field was only 10 drivers and Stewart finished 11th. Other than that, he’s been a perennial contender for the Chase — and for wins. Stewart extended his streak of consecutive years with a victory to 14 in 2012. He won at least one race a season and, generally, two or more in each of those years.
Sweet taste of victory
Two-time winner of the Brickyard 400: Stewart, a native of Indiana, has long had a special fondness for racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He’s run well in the open-wheel ranks at the track, finishing as high as fifth and earning a three top-10 finishes there. But it is NASCAR that gave him the chance to finally kiss the bricks. He raced at Indy six times, finishing fifth twice, before he broke through with an emotional victory in 2005. Two years later, Stewart won again at the famed 2.5-mile venue.
Completed Indy-Coca-Cola 600 double — twice: It’s a feat few have ever even tried, much less completed. Stewart, though, took it to new levels, threatening the front-runners in both historic races in 2001. After attempting the double in 1999, Stewart was lured once more into running the Indianapolis 500, the IRL's most prestigious race, and the Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR’s longest event, on the same Sunday. He worked with a trainer to prepare — and the results showed. Stewart completed all 1,100 miles, finishing sixth at Indy and third at Charlotte.
This is my house
Successful track owner: Stewart is clearly heavily invested in racing, from the grassroots level up. He took over ownership of Eldora Speedway in time for the 2005 season, then added the annual Prelude to the Dream Late Model race to the half-mile dirt track located in Rossburg, Ohio. Stewart has put the track on the map, not only with his fund-raising event but also through weekly activities that draw fans and drivers to the facility. In 2013, the dirt track will debut on the Camping World Truck Series schedule.
No one-trick pony
1997 IndyCar Series champion: Before he was a NASCAR star, Stewart made a name for himself in the open-wheel ranks. Stewart enjoyed a spirited battle with Davey Hamilton for the 1997 championship, netting the title before beginning his transition into stock cars. He is the most successful among all drivers who have attempted to make the move between different racing organizations.
More than a racer
Dedicated humanitarian: Stewart (in photo with Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage to announce "The Smoke Show," benefiting Speedway Children's Charities) has quietly worked long and hard to give to others in need. Through his Tony Stewart Foundation and other avenues, he has long been a heavy supporter of several charity initiatives, including the Victory Junction Gang Camp and programs to help injured drivers in various racing series. He also helps through his annual "Prelude to the Dream," which is televised by HBO Pay-Per-View, with all proceeds going to selected charities.
Meet the boss
Successful co-owner of three-car Cup team: In 2009, Stewart made a bold career move. He left the Joe Gibbs Racing team where he’d netted a pair of titles to become co-owner of the former Haas Racing CNC, a struggling two-car outfit. Stewart changed all that, making strong hires and adding Ryan Newman (right, in photo) as the organization’s second driver. The pair silenced all doubters when both made the Chase for the Sprint Cup in their debut season as Stewart-Haas Racing. Stewart then won the title with the team in 2011. For 2013, he has expanded to three full-time teams, adding Danica Patrick to the stable for her rookie campaign.
Winner of 59 NASCAR points races - Stewart has been a factor in NASCAR, no matter what he is driving. He didn’t win in the traditional manner, though, of working his way up through the series. Instead, Stewart’s first NASCAR win, at any level, came in the Cup ranks. He won at Richmond International Raceway in the 25th start of his career, which came during his 1999 rookie season. It would be three more years before he won in the Truck series, where he was making his second start and won in an Andy Petree-owner machine at Richmond. Then, in 2005, he went to Victory Lane in the Nationwide Series driving for Kevin Harvick at Daytona International Speedway. Overall, Stewart has 47 Cup, 10 Nationwide and two Truck wins in his career.
Three NASCAR Cup championships: Stewart is the only NASCAR Cup driver to win a championship under both the so-called "old" and "new" points systems. He won the title in 2002 when the entire season’s points counted toward the title. He then came back and won it again in 2005 under a Chase system in which the field was cut to 10 drivers battling to the end for the championship. He followed that with the 2011 title, won under a slightly altered points system that was designed to put more emphasis on wins and in a Chase field of 12 drivers.