Smoke out: Stewart retiring after 2016, Bowyer tabbed as replacement


Tony Stewart, a three-time Sprint Cup Series champion, will step away from NASCAR following the 2016 season.

Stewart has struggled to adapt to new rule changes on the cars in NASCAR’s top series while also dealing with the fallout from the death of Kevin Ward Jr at Canandaigua Motorsports Park back in 2014.

The announcement of Stewart’s decision to step away from the No. 14 Chevrolet of the team he co-owns came during a press conference at the Stewart-Haas shop.

“This is a moment every driver eventually comes to terms with, and I know this is the right decision for me,” said Stewart. “2016 will be my last year in a Sprint Cup car, but it’s not my last year in NASCAR. I love this sport and I love being a part of it, and instead of seeing me in a firesuit on Sundays, you’ll see me in a pair of jeans, and maybe even a pair of khakis. I plan to make the most of my final year as a driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and part of that is to ensure that when Clint Bowyer takes over the No. 14 in 2017, he has everything he needs to win races and contend for the championship. I’m very comfortable with this decision and what the future holds for me and Stewart-Haas Racing.”

Stewart has 48 Sprint Cup victories, 15 of which have come with SHR. He gives way to Bowyer who has spent the last handful of seasons at Michael Waltrip Racing which will close it’s doors at the end of the 2015 season.

“Today is an incredible opportunity and I’m proud and excited to take over the #14 in 2017,” said Bowyer. “Whether it’s racing him on Sunday or watching my dirt late model teams race at his famed Eldora Speedway, Tony and I share the same passion for racing. That makes this opportunity a perfect fit for me. I appreciate everything he’s done for me and the sport of auto racing. These are big shoes to fill, but boy am I ever looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a champion’s ride, and have Tony there with me along the way.”

Stewart expressed that he had no regrets about his decision to retire from the sport.

“I have been blessed with fantastic partners throughout my racing career, and I take a lot of pride in the lifelong friendships formed and the great business successes we’ve been a part of,” Stewart said. “I never would’ve accomplished all that I’ve achieved in racing if it weren’t for the support of corporate America. They helped a kid from Columbus, Indiana, reach his dreams and I’ll be forever grateful.”