NASCAR's three-time champ Stewart to retire after 2016 season

Wed Sep 30, 2015 3:48pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Steve Ginsburg

(Reuters) - Tony Stewart, one of auto racing's biggest names, announced on Wednesday he would retire from NASCAR driving after the 2016 season, saying: "Deep down you know when it's time to do something different."

The mercurial 44-year-old Stewart, a three-time NASCAR champion and winner of 48 races at the circuit's top level, said Clint Boyer would get behind the wheel of the Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet after next season.

"Everybody in their career makes the decision that it's time for a change," Stewart, who will remain co-owner of the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing team, told a news conference in Kannapolis, North Carolina.

"It's nothing that you plan. Deep down you know when it's time to do something different and make a change like this."

It has been a rough stretch for Stewart, who has not had a top-5 finish in 28 NASCAR races this season. In each of his first 15 seasons, Stewart, known as "Smoke," won at least one race.

Last year, he fatally struck 20-year-old fellow driver Kevin Ward Jr. in a sprint car race in upstate New York. Ward's parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Stewart.

Stewart denied that his driving slump, the death of Ward, or the broken leg he suffered in a sprint car accident in 2013 had anything to do with his decision to quit NASCAR racing.

"Not 1 percent has that had anything to do with it," he said. "This is strictly what I want to do. My leg feels fine. The (Ward) tragedy, nothing's going to change that. It happened, but it's not going to direct the rest of my life."   Continued...

Aug 31, 2014; Hampton, GA, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Tony Stewart (14) prior to the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports