Tony Stewart takes in the sights at Memphis zoo with Mobil 1 partners Today, Tony Stewart is expected to announce his retirement from NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition following the 2016 season -- at least that's what sources told NASCAR.com. So one day before the big announcement, how was 'Smoke' getting prepared? By visiting the zoo. In Memphis, Tennessee. At the Memphis Zoo with our friends from @Mobil1 pic.twitter.com/DywMfL31Nv — Tony Stewart (@TonyStewart) September 29, 2015 Maybe that actually makes sense. A throng of media will descend on Stewart-Haas Racing 's shop later today, so that will be a zoo in its own right.
RELATED: NASCAR doubles restart zone " Drivers weigh in on restart change DOVER, Del. – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers appear to be pleased with NASCAR's decision to lengthen the restart zone used at tracks, but say that the move won't completely erase the gamesmanship that plays out when the field prepares to take the green flag. The sanctioning body announced earlier this week that the restart zone for this weekend's AAA 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway had been expanded from 70 feet to 140 feet. Likewise, the zones at upcoming events in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup would also be expanded, with the actual length of the zone to be determined by the size of the track. Restart zones, located prior to the start/finish line, indicate where the race leader, or control car, is allowed to accelerate when the race is either beginning or coming out of a caution period. Issues with drivers timing their starts to gain an advantage on the leader have led to complaints from competitors and explanations of how restarts are policed as well as warnings to toe the line during drivers' meetings. Beginning with the first Chase race, at Chicagoland Speedway , NASCAR stationed an official inside the track near the restart zone, and added a high definition camera to provide additional information should the need arise. At Chicagoland, Jeff Gordon appeared to jump the restart while starting second alongside Kyle Busch . NASCAR reviewed the restart and eventually ruled that no infraction took place. RELATED: What NASCAR said after the Chicagoland restart was reviewed Last week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway , Brad Keselowski was black-flagged for jumping the restart, although he did not complete a pass of race leader Greg Biffle during the restart. "I absolutely love it," Gordon, a four-time series champion, said Friday at Dover. "I think it's a great move." Gordon's been around longer than any current full-time driver, and has seen the way NASCAR handles restarts evolve from single-file to double-file, from not allowing the leader to be passed before the start/finish line to making that line a non-factor on restarts. The use of restart zones and how they have been policed, while a good idea, was "too extreme," according to the Hendrick Motorsports driver. "It used to be a mark on the wall and it was go in the vicinity of this mark and this area, but really the way the rules were written you could kind of go all the way to the start/finish line," he said. "People pushed the limits on that and forced NASCAR to make this box that we currently have. "The box was always too small. It just makes the whole front row very vulnerable and not just the second-place car, but the leader as well. It has needed to be bigger. My only question is did they go big enough?" Gordon said he had his team's engineers do a study of the restart zones, and discovered that "the average time that you are in that box and had time to react to a restart was barely more than one second. "It may look like it's fairly big out there, (but) it is not," he said. "When you have one second to react in that area everyone can just anticipate what is going on but the people in the front row." The fact that a driver is the leader, said Joe Gibbs Racing 's Kyle Busch , should provide him with some advantage, however slight it might be. "This business isn't easy," Busch said. "... I think the biggest thing is just NASCAR making sure that they watch the roll – the people rolling up on other people. And … I feel as though the second-place guy can't beat the leader to the first (restart zone) mark, the end of the restart zone. "It doesn't matter about the start-finish line. It's the restart zone I feel like the leader should always be ahead." While extending the zone will give officials a bigger window in which to determine if a driver has jumped a restart, the change won't end drivers' attempts to push the envelope. But by finally ruling against a driver on a restart – something officials had not done recently – teams now know the possibility of the call coming down exists. "There's going to be plenty of gamesmanship still, and I think NASCAR has also set the precedent with what they did last week and enforcing the rule," Joey Logano , Keselowski's teammate at Team Penske , said. "That's something they need to continue doing. "It's not just having it happen one time and ... scare us, and then don't do anything about it for the next three weeks. "They finally put their foot down last week on what we can and can't do, and that rule needs to be consistent and make sure that when they see something they make the same call and be consistent with that."
DOVER, Del. – Jimmie Johnson 's NASCAR premier series career is a story of numbers. Wins? He's at 74 and counting, eighth most in the series and second among active drivers. Championships? Six, trailing only the seven won by NASCAR Hall of Fame members Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. Second-place finishes? He's got 46 of those, also second most among active participants. The only item that Johnson can't put a number on involves retirement. "No, I do not have a number and I have not picked a number," Johnson said Friday at Dover International Speedway , site of Sunday's AAA 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR). "As a kid growing up racing and as I got in the sport, I didn't say 'when I get to this age, I'm going to step down.' I haven't had that conversation and have not picked a number with my wife and said, 'OK honey, this is the point that I am going to stop.' It's really based on feel, and I have Chani's support on that as well. "When I feel like it's time, I am going to make that decision. Certainly (I) don't feel like it's time now." That may be bad news for his fellow racers. Johnson is the only driver to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup every year; he's won multiple races every year since his first full season in 2002 and he has finished outside the top five in points only twice during his 14-year career. In a sport that changes constantly, Johnson and success have been linked since Day 1. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon , 44, is stepping aside at year's end. Fellow series champion Tony Stewart , also 44, has announced that 2016 will be his last as a Sprint Cup Series driver. "I remember watching Rusty (Wallace) pick a number and then remember talking to (him) in years following that and I still think he's mad he stopped," Johnson said. "I think he feels like he could be out here racing with us and winning races. "So conversations with him, with Dale Jarrett, with other guys ... I have always been curious. Why, when, what tells you to stop? Mark (Martin) tried a half dozen times to retire and couldn't walk away. "So I want to make sure I do it once and not keep coming back." What he's looking for, he said, is "the moment." "That moment that you say, ‘Alright, it's time.' When that shows up, then I will step down." The final race in this year's Challenger Round is set for Sunday. It will be Johnson's 500th career start, and his fifth-place points position makes him a shoo-in to be one of the 12 drivers who advance into the Contender Round. Becoming a member of Hendrick Motorsports , paired with sponsor Lowe's and crew chief Chad Knaus, the success that followed has "been a life-changing experience," Johnson said, "something I dreamed of. "But I still couldn't have dreamed this big and have this much take place for us."
RELATED: Photos of Stewart through the years " Bowyer tabbed as replacement Three-time premier series champion Tony Stewart smiled and conceded it was a "formality at this point" in announcing Wednesday afternoon that he would step away from full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition following the 2016 season. "It was a choice that is 100 percent mine, no pressure from anybody," Stewart said of his decision not to compete full-time anymore. "If anything, it's been the opposite, more people trying to talk me out of it. "Everyone in their career makes a decision when it's time for a change. I think deep down you know when it's time to do something different and make a change like this." Appearing jovial and without a hint of second-thought about his career decision, Stewart joked he was bringing Harry Gant out of retirement to drive the the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Chevy in 2017, then confirmed that actually Clint Bowyer would be taking over his seat. The news confirmed months of speculation and rumor about Stewart's future and solidified Bowyer's career path as well with Bowyer's Michael Waltrip Racing team closing operations at the end of 2015. "It's all about people, all about culture for me, and I don't think the fit factor could be any better," said Bowyer, acknowledging the SHR ride was "one of the biggest powerhouses in the sport" and said an announcement is coming later this week about his 2016 plans. Wednesday was clearly more about "the people's champion" as Stewart is often referred. One of the most popular and accomplished champions to ever compete in NASCAR's marquee series, Stewart, 44, has won three premier series titles as a driver (2002, 2005, 2011) and two as an owner (2011, 2014), accumulated 48 victories and won over countless hearts as a kind of extreme throw-back talent garnering comparisons to racing's all-time greats such as A.J. Foyt and Dale Earnhardt. Quite simply, Stewart won in every car he drove. And NASCAR fans always appreciated that about the driver known by his nickname, "Smoke." RELATED: Drivers react to Stewart's announcement Stewart won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in 15 straight seasons from his 1999 rookie year through 2013, and he has 11 NASCAR XFINITY Series wins in 94 starts -- roughly winning once every 10 times he tried. He won twice in six NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts and had five top-10 finishes. "When I think of Tony Stewart , unmatched passion and a pure love of the sport come to mind," NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said in a release. "He has won championships and millions of fans. But he has given back so much more, and that's what I admire most. Today's news was bittersweet for all, but we know Tony will continue to be a big part of our sport in his roles as a team and track owner. On behalf of the entire NASCAR family, I thank Tony for his many years of excellence and competitiveness, and wish him nothing but the best in his final season as a driver in the Sprint Cup Series." The 1997 IndyCar champion -- and 1996 Indy 500 Rookie of the Race -- proved his mettle against motorsports' best drivers, winning four times in IROC competition, earning the 2006 IROC championship and finishing runner-up in 2001. In 1999 he completed racing's Memorial Day "Double," finishing ninth in the Indianapolis 500 and fourth in NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 later that same day in North Carolina. Stewart was the first driver in history to win all three major United States Auto Club national championships -- Midget, Sprint and Silver Crown -- in a single season. So after essentially four decades behind the wheel fulltime, Stewart said he contemplated this decision for a while and said this week, he is completely at peace. "I've learned a lot about myself," Stewart said. You run through the range of emotions. There's days you're like, I can't wait, and then there's days that are like, man, do I ‑‑ you battle back and forth. "I'm not leaving the sport I love. I'm not walking away from something I'm passionate about, I'm just changing roles, which it's like just moving to a different position in a company. "I'm not really retiring, I'm just changing positions." RELATED: Best quotes from Stewart's press conference It's been an admittedly uphill climb for the champ after the last three seasons of horrible injury and extreme heartbreak. He missed the last 15 races in the 2013 season after suffering a compound leg fracture while competing in a sprint car race. Then last year, while still mending from that injury, Stewart was involved in another sprint car accident. This time, another competitor, Kevin Ward Jr., was killed when, after approaching Stewart's car on track during a caution period, the car struck Ward. Stewart sat out three Sprint Cup races immediately after. No criminal charges were found to be justified against Stewart; the Ward family filed a civil lawsuit against him a year later. On Wednesday Stewart stressed that his decision to stop driving in the Cup series full-time had "zero percent to with (the Ward situation)" and that physically, "my leg feels fine, there's nothing wrong with my leg." He said he may even compete in Sprint cars again. He listed the Rolex 24 at Daytona as a possibility and mentioned racing modifieds and making sporadic starts in the XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series -- all things he plans to do without the stress and full schedule of racing full-time in the Sprint Cup ranks. RELATED: Tony talks toll on leg, life In the past two seasons, Stewart has struggled to post the kind of top-shelf results both he and his fans had grown accustomed to seeing. But he has consistently insisted that was more to do with the current rules package than his off-track distractions. He said earlier this year that NASCAR's new high downforce, low horsepower car does not suit his style and is actually "the opposite of everything I've ever driven. "It's like I'm in the middle of a calculus equation and I didn't take pre-calculus,'' Stewart told NASCAR.com this May. He is currently 25th in the Sprint Cup Series driver standings with a sub-standard two top-10 finishes in his No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet this year. But he was adamant that he would not be coasting in his final season and that this decision was not "performance based." Stepping away from his NASCAR driving duties, Stewart's focus shifts to running his beloved Eldora Speedway in Ohio and to being a team owner. His resume out of the car is already as impressive as his work behind the steering wheel. "It's just time to do what we're doing," Stewart said. "I still fully anticipate we're going to get things turned around. If I didn't feel that way, I wouldn't waste my time next year for anybody. I'm not a guy that's going to get in a car and ride. We're full steam ahead. "We're going to keep working and try to win as many races as we can next year, and that goal is going to be ‑‑ when you guys get to February, go ahead and write this down, what our goals are for the year, we're going to try to win races, try to win the Daytona 500 , then the Brickyard 400 , the Southern 500, and try to win a championship." Ultimately, stepping away from his NASCAR driving duties, Stewart's focus shifts to running his beloved Eldora Speedway in Ohio and to being a team owner. His effort out of the car is already as impressive as his work behind the steering wheel. His namesake Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 team is the reigning Sprint Cup owner champion thanks to Kevin Harvick 's 2014 championship run, and two of his team's four drivers -- Harvick and Kurt Busch -- are in this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . This summer Stewart collected his 10th Knoxville Nationals trophy in the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series fielding a car for driver Donny Schatz, who has also delivered five World of Outlaw championships for Stewart. He has 23 national titles as a team owner. "I've won more car championships as an owner than a driver," Stewart said "I'm definitely as competitive as an owner as I am a driver. …That fire's still there and that's what makes this transition easier." While his success driving and fielding cars is partly responsible for Stewart's incredible popularity over the years, he is also one of the sport's most robust personalities. RELATED: 'Smoke' still the people's champion He's not afraid to express his displeasure at his competitors' blunders, and the other drivers have come to expect either face time or bumper time with him after on track run-ins. And Stewart's "no-fools" tolerance policy extends to the media covering his career. There are highlight reels devoted to showcasing him sparring with reporters in press conferences and on pit road -- his wit and sarcasm legendary with the media corps. He grinned broadly and warned the room of reporters on Wednesday that he will not follow the guide of four-time champ Jeff Gordon who has met with the press nearly every week during this -- his last -- year of NASCAR competition. "Let's establish this right now: I will not be coming to the media center every week to talk about it,'" Stewart said smiling and shaking his head. "You can save your gifts. I've got enough rocking chairs at home as it is. I bought those when I wanted to go sit on my own rocking chair. You don't have to give me one. "I'm content to go race and be around the racing community and the racing family and be around our fans," he continued. "They can just send me a note from the track president and say, hey, thank you, and that'll be sufficient for me. "I think it's been very fitting for Jeff [Gordon]. I don't think I'm worthy of that kind of admiration because I think Jeff has really done so much for the sport that nobody will ever be able to do again. I think that kind of celebration is reserved for somebody like Jeff." One thing Stewart has across the board is respect -- from his competitors, to the fans and to the media who will be watching closely to see how this next chapter in his career and life plays out. He gave a couple hints on Wednesday afternoon. When it's time to drop the green flag for the 2017 Daytona 500 – the first one run without Tony Stewart on the grid since 1999 – the champ says he hasn't figured out quite yet where he'll be, but spoke about one possibility. "I'll probably be on some fan's motor home on the back stretch promoting our sponsors," Stewart said laughing. "I have no idea where I'm supposed to be yet. I've got a whole year to figure that out."
Driver documents fluids taken and weight lost at Indianapolis Landon Cassill performed a "science experiment" during Sunday's Crown Royal presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The full-time driver in both the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series proved his stamina after May's Coca-Cola 600 , running 14 miles to the NASCAR Hall of Fame following NASCAR's longest race of the season. He also qualified to compete in next month's Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Austria. As he braved temperatures that saw one in-car thermometer in Casey Mears ' car reach at least 131 degrees, Cassill had a query: How much weight would a driver lose over 400 miles in a race? See the results of his experiment below. Science experiment! My pre race weight, I'm planning on taking in 80oz of fluids in the race, we'll see what I lose. pic.twitter.com/QJ0W071Yz3 — landon cassill (@landoncassill) July 26, 2015 Consumed 110oz fluids & 1100 calories->post race 147.4lbs. That's -15lbs, replaced 7 of it with fluids, net loss 8lbs pic.twitter.com/WsXq6rsvO0 — landon cassill (@landoncassill) July 26, 2015 That's a 10% gross loss of body weight, getting it back to 5% with fluid replacement. I think I'd like to see closer to 3%. — landon cassill (@landoncassill) July 26, 2015 I few more stats from the 110oz of fluids I took in...1,100 Cal, 1,978mg of sodium, 264g Carbs, 572mg Potassium — landon cassill (@landoncassill) July 26, 2015 FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
When NASCAR Goes West, Spring Break Comes to Phoenix International Raceway Don’t Miss the Camping World 500 Race Weekend, March 11-13* Buy Phoenix Spring 2016 Race Tickets. It’s never too early to plan your Spring Break getaway, especially when it’s NASCAR style! Tickets to the Camping World 500 Race Weekend at Phoenix International Raceway are on sale now. You can make your 2016 Spring Break one to remember with tickets to NASCAR’s first short-track race of the season. Make the most out of your race weekend by applying the track’s insider tips. 1/ Purchase Early, Save BIG By ordering your tickets to the Camping World 500, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race now, you can choose from PIR’s best selection of seats and take advantage of value period pricing. Make sure to reserve your seats before regular pricing begins on January 1, 2016. 2/ Make a Weekend Out of It Expand your race weekend experience by adding tickets to the Axalta Faster. Tougher. Brighter. 200 , NASCAR XFINITY Series Race, on Saturday, March 12, and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Qualifying on Friday, March 11. 3/ Make PIR Your Family Vacation Destination Get inspired by Clark Griswold and take your family on the vacation of a lifetime. Stop by the Grand Canyon on your way, take in some Cactus League Spring Training games in the Phoenix Valley and become an official member of ZOOMTOWN, U.S.A.® Phoenix International Raceway for the week and park the family RV in one of our GEICO Gecko Flats Reserved RV Spaces. Take back your Spring Break. Reserve your seats now . *2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Schedule has not officially been announced or confirmed. Dates are tentative and subject to change.
Kyle Busch holds off a charge by Joey Logano on a green-white-checkered-finish and gets his first win in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, sweeping the weekend.
Eight tweets from around the NASCAR Twitterverse Editor's note: Every Friday "Tweets you might have missed" will present eight of the best NASCAR-related tweets from the week. 1. Tonight's feature winner of the "Little Brickyard 400 " pic.twitter.com/kzmjz41IzL — DeLana Harvick (@DeLanaHarvick) August 1, 2015 2. T-shirt game strong. pic.twitter.com/I8PV5ZiLNw — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) August 5, 2015 3. Owens gonna have some fun! pic.twitter.com/Erhq8MKfcp — Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) August 4, 2015 4. Someone really likes her new life jacket if you can't tell by her face #ILoveLucy pic.twitter.com/fMmoDLLjeU — Samantha Busch (@SamanthaBusch) August 4, 2015 5. Have no idea whose bike this is but he knows "COOL" pic.twitter.com/SQpALgOUVi — Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) August 1, 2015 6. 5 & flying! pic.twitter.com/Lc1d41q22o — Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) August 5, 2015 7. Vintage Paint By Number: Original @FrontRowJoe87 No. 87. #NASCAR #Vintage pic.twitter.com/LK6lY3q1RI — Joe Nemechek (@FrontRowJoe87) August 5, 2015 8. Doing a video shoot up here in Wilkes County for @FordPerformance . Look at the gift they gave me! Ha #RealNiceGuys pic.twitter.com/dt0C4L4oY1 — Joey Logano (@joeylogano) August 4, 2015 FAN TWEET OF THE WEEK: @AJDinger already picked you for this weekend, so this has to be a good sign right?? #nascaronnbc #nascar pic.twitter.com/EodULVaaNg — Britty (@brit_a_rit) August 6, 2015
RELATED: Complete lineup for Sunday's race DOVER, Del. – A hard, steady rain at Dover International Speedway made Matt Kenseth 's life easier—and Kevin Harvick 's challenge even more difficult than it otherwise might have been. With a massive East Coast storm forcing cancellation of all of Friday’s track activity at the Monster Mile, including NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying, Kenseth will start on the pole for Sunday’s AAA 400 , the elimination race for the Challenger Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup (2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The series leader, Kenseth already has earned a spot in the Chase's Contender Round by virtue of last Sunday's victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . On the other hand, with the field ordered by owner points according to rainout rules, Harvick will start 15th in a race he almost certainly must win to keep his hopes of winning back-to-back series championships alive. After an early wreck and a 42nd-place finish in the Chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway , Harvick ran out of fuel while leading with three laps left at New Hampshire and finished 21st, leaving him 23 points out of 12th place in the standings, the last transfer position for the next round. Even though the rain put him on the pole, Kenseth would have preferred to have practiced on Friday, especially in light of the suspension issues that relegated him to a 39th-place finish in the May 31 event at Dover. "I think we all would have liked to get on the track today and get some practice," Kenseth said on Friday at Dover. "I know there are some things we wanted to work on and try to improve from the spring for this race. "I think everybody wanted to get on the track. I think it's one of the advantages of leading the points – obviously, if it rains, you get a good starting spot and pit stall. Glad we're starting in the front, but still would have liked the track time." The qualifying cancellation means the 16 Chase drivers will start from the top 16 positions on the grid. Denny Hamlin , who punched his ticket to the Contender Round with a win at Chicagoland, will start on the front row beside his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate. Carl Edwards , Joey Logano and Jimmie Johnson are third through fifth on the grid, respectively, for Sunday’s race. "Bubble" drivers Jamie McMurray , Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Kyle Busch and Paul Menard , all of whom are within a two-point range in the standings, will start 11th through 14th, respectively. "We'll be ready; we'll be prepared and we won't start as far forward as we have here in years past," said Busch, who blew a right front tire at New Hampshire, crashed and finished 37th. "Typically we're a top-five qualifier. ... We'll make do." Busch feels his team's level of readiness coming to the track this season will stand him in good stead. "I think, for my guys, we've been really, really good this year of unloading and having some strong cars and some good speed right off the truck," Busch said. "I'd actually look forward to no practice time here. I think that would be really good for the 18 team."