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Stewart Says Retirement Can’t Arrive Soon Enough

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, June 24 2016
Tony Stewart said he's had enough of Sprint Cup race. (RacinToday file photo by Rusty Jarrett)

Tony Stewart said he’s had enough of Sprint Cup racing. (RacinToday file photo by Rusty Jarrett)

It sounds as there will be very few tears in driver Tony Stewart’s eyes when he retires at the end of the current season. It sounds like the three-time Sprint Cup Series champion’s primary emotion after getting out of his car for the final race will be: good riddance.

sprint-logo-08Stewart, who announced last year that 2016 is it for him as a Cup driver, served notice that a sappy farewell in November is not on his itinerary when asked Friday exactly why he is walking away from the sport even though he is still competitive.

“Because I’m ready to go run stuff that makes me happy and driving a Sprint Cup car does not make me happy right now,” he said.

The end to Stewart’s love affair with Cup is a victim of changing times. Just not into Cup racing in the age of changing racing values and ethics.

“A lot of things have changed,” he said. “The atmosphere has changed.  “There is so much stuff in the garage area that has changed that it was time for me to make a change with it.”

Take Friday morning during practice at the Sonoma road course in Northern California. Stewart
says he’s out in his Stewart-Haas Chevrolet tooling around and trying to get laps in in preparation for Sunday’s race.

Then, he said, along comes newer generation driver. One whom Stewart insisted just doesn’t get it.

“I had Jamie McMurray screw us up on a lap,” Stewart said.  “He was trying to do a qualifying lap. Some of the things some of these guys do nowadays doesn’t make sense. When we had Dale (Earnhardt) Sr. and Rusty Wallace and Dale Jarrett and those guys they were able to get their arms around these guys and get them to listen and make sense. There is really nobody here that can do that anymore.  Everybody is out of control out there.”

Everybody meaning exactly who?

“I’m not even going to talk about those guys,” he said. “It’s not worth it.  I’m getting inducted into a wall of fame (at Sonoma this weekend). I’m not worried about those guys right now.”

Stewart said the frustration he voiced Friday certainly was not because of a lack of enjoyment in racing at a road course. Certainly not the Sonoma road course. Big ovals, like the upcoming restrictor plate race at Daytona?

That’s different, he said.

Definitely next week there is nothing I’m going to miss about that,” Stewart said. “But this has always been a cool place.  This track is one where you race the race track. It’s you against the track every week.  The restarts create the carnage here and guys doing stupid stuff, but when you get into a run and you get a long green flag run like that that is when it’s fun here because you are racing the race track and what you’ve got to do to make yourself fast.  It’s not that same feeling of wheel to wheel competition that you get other places, but this track is more challenging than the competition is.  If you can beat the track, you can win the race too.”

Also shaving the hard edge off of retiring is a desire by Stewart to have free time. And free time while he is still relatively young.

I’ve dedicated 18 years of my life to this series and it’s done great by me,” he said. “I’ve made a great living doing it, but at the same time there are other things in life I want to do other than be at a NASCAR track three days a week for 38 weekends out of 52 weeks a year.

“There are just other things I want to do now.  I never dreamed there was going to be a time that I was going to think about something like this.  It wasn’t overnight.  There were weeks that you would think about ‘man I really want to go to Monaco and see the Monaco Grand Prix or I really want to go to Knoxville, Iowa and be out there for the A-main of the Knoxville Nationals or the Kings Royal at Eldora.’  There are things I want to do that because of our schedule you don’t have time to do it.  There is just not enough time to do everything you want to do.  It’s time for me to do this.”

Asked what else is on his to-do list, Stewart said the list is still under construction.

“I’m just not sure what they all are yet.  That is the thing,” he said. “When you have raced for 38 years that is all you know, it’s all you think about, that is all you dream about.  When you wake up you are thinking about it, while you are eating breakfast that is all you do.  I just can’t imagine that there is not more to life than this.  I know there is.  I know people that talk about it all the time.  I’ve got friends like Don Prudhomme and Ray Evernham and guys that are already retired that talk about how much fun they are having.  I’m like, man that sounds like a good time to me.”

Sounds like a visit to Jamie McMurray’s place is not on that list.

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, June 24 2016
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