@nascarcasm dreams up what friends and foes texted 'Smoke' RELATED: All content from @nascarcasm " Follow @nascarcasm So, Tony Stewart is stepping away from full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition following the 2016 season? Good thing @nascarcasm is here to dream up some fake texts to 'Smoke' after last week's news.
Podcast highlights three-time Cup champion's accomplishments The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup is upon us. This week, however, it was made clear that NASCAR's silly season might be upon us as well. The news that Tony Stewart will no longer be piloting the No. 14 Stewart -Haas Racing Chevrolet after the 2016 season was yet another shock to the system for NASCAR fans who will see two icons of the sport, Stewart and Jeff Gordon , retire in subsequent years. The Dirty Air Podcast crew, along with special guest Chris Rice of NTS Motorsports, were among those coming to grips with the retirement of a fan favorite. The NASCAR landscape will soon be without any drivers that ran in the Cup Series full time in the 90s, which may come as a harsh realization to those of us who think they are much younger than they are. The times they are a changin', and The Dirty Air does its best to express the impact of "Smoke's" NASCAR career. • Log on to the iTunes Store and subscribe • Or watch the full replay on YouTube Remember, this blog is just a teaser to our full-length show that is available on YouTube and iTunes -- or listen to it in this nifty little widget below.
Jimmie Johnson talks in Dover International Speedway's media center about Tony Stewart announcing his retirement after the 2015 NASCAR season.
MORE: Stewart announces that 2016 will be final season in NASCAR's top series KANNAPOLIS, N.C. -- Stewart -Haas Racing unveiled Clint Bowyer as Tony Stewart 's successor Wednesday, shedding light on the plan to replace the three-time NASCAR premier-series champion upon his retirement at the end of next season. Bowyer said when it became evident that there was a vacancy at Stewart's No. 14 ride, he didn't hesitate. "They didn't have to call me," Bowyer said with his patented grin. Though the spotlight shone brightest Wednesday on Stewart , one of NASCAR's most popular drivers and a surefire bet for first-ballot induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Bowyer's piece of the puzzle provided an extra source of intrigue for the four-car organization's future. The news also provided Bowyer with an opportune landing place after rocky recent weeks with his current team, Michael Waltrip Racing . "I don't think I got fired; it just went away, and somehow you landed in a way better situation," Bowyer said to laughter in Wednesday's news conference at HaasF1's sprawling new headquarters. "Do you ever hear that term when you fall in a pile of cow manure and come out smelling like roses? That's exactly what this is for me." Bowyer's timetable for inheriting the No. 14 Chevrolet ride in 2017 includes a one-year gap in his driving duties. He shied away from giving specifics regarding his 2016 plans, despite speculation he would shift to the two-car HScott Motorsports outfit for a one-year stint in the interim. Bowyer hinted that next season's part of the equation could become clearer by this weekend at Dover International Speedway . "Yeah, there's going to be some more announcements later in the week as far as where we're going for next year," Bowyer said. "But for this announcement, why I'm here today is to announce the long‑term future plan for me." Stewart initially joked that his handpicked selection for the No. 14 Chevy was retired driver "Handsome" Harry Gant, the 75-year-old veteran whose last season in NASCAR was 1994. Besides a tongue-in-cheek comment about Gant's and Bowyer's common thread with "immaculate hair," Stewart applauded the team's newest driver, saying that his hero and friend -- racing legend A.J. Foyt -- would approve of the hire. "You know, everything in racing is timing, and the opportunity to get somebody like Clint Bowyer , I mean, that's when you know you seize the opportunity. We're probably going to have a hard time working together and communicating with each other. We probably won't have any fun racing," Stewart said with trademark sarcasm. "It's the right time, it's the right opportunity, and when somebody in a scenario like Clint's this year came about, you jump on those opportunities, and you know that timing is everything." In a compelling contrast, the details for Bowyer's future emerged as the fate of his campaign in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs simultaneously faced a crossroads just six miles away, where Michael Waltrip Racing was appealing P4-grade penalties against Bowyer's No. 15 team at the NASCAR Research & Development Center. RELATED: MWR penalty upheld in appeal Bowyer qualified for this year's Chase on the basis of his rank in the Sprint Cup driver standings, but the team opened with a thud in the Chicagoland opener. Penalties stemming from a pre-race infraction for improper track-bar and suspension mountings essentially negated the team's 19th-place finish, digging a large deficit in the opening three-race Challenger Round. The 25-point penalty was upheld Wednesday by a three-member panel, keeping Bowyer last in the 16-driver postseason field with bleak odds of advancing from the Chase's opening round this weekend at Dover International Speedway . The appeal is another tipping point in Bowyer's final days with MWR. The team announced Aug. 19 that it would shut its doors at the end of the season, granting Bowyer his release and freeing him to seek employment elsewhere. That freedom resulted in landing nicely on his feet, claiming what he called "one of the best rides ever in the history of the sport." "I mean, this is a champion's seat that I'm filling, so that being said, this is an unbelievable opportunity," Bowyer said. "Just like I said earlier, to think of that door opening, and holy cow, the timing couldn't have been any better for myself. Just somebody was looking after me." Bowyer has eight victories in NASCAR's premier series -- five with Richard Childress Racing , where he drove from 2006-2011, and three with Michael Waltrip Racing (2012-2015), all coming in his first year with the team. Bowyer's 2012 campaign remains his most successful with a second-place result in the final Sprint Cup standings. But besides the performance and accomplishments, Bowyer also brings an affable, cooperative element to the mix of personnel and personalities at Stewart -Haas. Though Bowyer said Wednesday that he would miss racing against Stewart -- his future boss, but also his friend -- he also looked forward to building chemistry in the next stage of his stock-car racing career. "That being said, damn, I'm glad that you decided to retire and open this seat up for me," Bowyer said to Stewart , "but you know, it's just all about people, it's all about culture for me, and I think the fit factor couldn't be any better."
RELATED: Watch live at 1 p.m. ET " Sources: Stewart to step away after '16 Stewart -Haas Racing has called a news conference Wednesday with driver and team co-owner Tony Stewart at 1 p.m. ET, the team announced Sunday night. Multiple sources confirmed to NASCAR.com that the driver will announce he is stepping away from NASCAR at the end of the 2016 season. The event will have video live-streamed -- bookmark NASCAR.com/presspass to tune in. Stewart , a three-time champion and 48-time winner in NASCAR's premier series, currently ranks 25th in the Sprint Cup driver standings. He placed 11th Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway , just missing his third top-10 finish of the season. Stewart became a team owner through a partnership with Gene Haas starting in 2009; since then, the Stewart -Haas team has grown from a two-car to a four-car operation. Two of the team's drivers -- defending series champion Kevin Harvick and former series champ Kurt Busch -- qualified for this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 30, 2015) -- "When I think of Tony Stewart , unmatched passion and a pure love of the sport come to mind. 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."
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."
MORE: Stewart announces that 2016 is final Cup season KANNAPOLIS, N.C. -- He was loose and smiling, joking and what, jovial? Has Tony Stewart ever been described as jovial? We've seen him laugh and cut up. Have fun from time to time. We've also seen him drive the wheels off a race car. Sadly, we've seen too little of those recently. The smile was there Wednesday though, no doubt about it. RELATED: Bowyer tabbed for No. 14 duty in 2017 It was there when he and co-team owner Gene Haas stepped out from behind the Carolina blue curtains and took their seats on the stage. And it was still there when Stewart , Haas and fellow driver Clint Bowyer departed approximately 50 minutes later. On Wednesday, Stewart announced that the 2016 season would be his last as a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver. Bowyer is his handpicked replacement for Stewart -Haas Racing 's No. 14 Chevrolet. It isn't a retirement, Stewart was quick to note, explaining that "I'm not walking away from something I'm passionate about; I'm just changing roles. … I'm not really retiring, I'm just changing positions." RELATED: Best quotes from Stewart press conferences He expects to bring the same intensity to his ownership role as he has displayed on the track. He'll be actively involved, probably to the displeasure of more than one NASCAR official, he added. There have been plenty of opportunities of late for the 44-year-old to step aside. The broken leg suffered in a sprint car crash in 2013; his involvement in an on-track fatality during a sprint car race last summer; a 2015 season that's shaping up to be the worst of his 17-year career in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. But none of those were a factor, he said. "It's all about timing. There was not one thing that led to this other than I just felt like it was the right time." The opportunity to bring Bowyer in house played a huge role. "You jump on those opportunities," Stewart said. "It just all meshed." It wasn't a knee-jerk decision. No "woe is me" tale of self-pity. Stewart looked and sounded as if it was a decision he had begun formulating long before his career suddenly became tabloid fodder. He has nothing left to prove on the track. There are races Stewart would like to win -- the Daytona 500 and Southern 500 have managed to elude him thus far. A fourth championship wouldn't be a bad way to leave, either. But with three titles (2002, '05, '11) and 48 career victories, Stewart's NASCAR resume needs no padding. RELATED: Stewart through the years He was already well down the path to a successful career as a racer long before NASCAR became an option in the mid '90s. And his career as a driver was nearly a decade old when Haas reached out with an offer to become partners prior to 2009. Along the way, numerous enterprises have sprouted up -- from track and team ownership to real estate and public relations companies. Piece by piece, an empire has been built. Opportunities became realities. "Everything happens for a reason, and you look at my career and you look at all the different entities that we have, nothing was ever part of a master plan," Stewart said. "It all just came about with opportunities coming at the right time and I think this was one of those as well." WATCH: Memorable moments from Stewart's announcement Other racing opportunities, in a variety of series, are out there, so Stewart's '16 season likely won't be the last time fans see him behind the wheel. The when and where won't be determined until later. The Sprint Cup effort -- SHR fields entries for defending series champion Kevin Harvick , Danica Patrick and '04 champ Kurt Busch as well as Stewart -- will be his focus beyond '16, though. "You know, it's kind of a bittersweet day," he said. "I'm excited about it, but at the same time I'm sad about it as well. I love what I do with NASCAR and I love what I do as a driver, and the great thing is I'm not going anywhere.” Folks that step away from the sport for any length of time will tell you that it's the people that they miss most, and Stewart's no different. He hasn't forgotten the people that called or texted when he was injured; those that reached out last summer, and those that contacted him when word of his announcement broke earlier this week. "It's all the guys in NASCAR," he said. "It's all the guys at SHR, and it's co‑owners and other owners in the series, other drivers, crew chiefs. Those are the people that I'm -- that's the reason I'm not going anywhere. I couldn't stand to be away from that family." The 2016 season will be different as the end of his Sprint Cup career draws nearer, but in many ways it will be the same. There are still races to be run, to be won and a title to be decided. And Stewart's not one to back down from an opportunity. "I mean I still want to win races," he said. "I can't think of a better way to go out than to go out on top and to win races and win a championship. "We're going to continue to put all of our effort toward that. … I can promise you, next year is not a coast and collect year."
Debating 'Smoke's' reported retirement after 2016, No. 4 team's strategy RELATED: Subscribe to NASCAR Illustrated " Harvick shoves Johnson post-race MORE: Stewart to retire from Sprint Cup action after '16 " Bowyer tabbed for No. 14 Tony Stewart 's reported retirement following the 2016 season was big news this week. Jimmie Johnson heading back to Dover, where the No. 48 team has been dominant in recent years, will headline the weekend. And come next Monday, four drivers will have fallen out of the Chase. Will defending champion Kevin Harvick be among them? We cover all of that and more in this week’s installment of Herman Unplugged. NASCAR ILLUSTRATED: Tony Stewart 's retirement after next season means two of our biggest champions will be gone from the competitive landscape in the span of a year. How will losing that amount of star power impact the sport and should NASCAR be concerned? HERMAN: "I think from the standpoint that Dale Jr. is gonna be 41 here in no time. We're looking at our sport's biggest stars by far and we're in that time where these drivers are not racing into their 50s no more. I see the new era of drivers quit in their mid-40s, because all these guys like Jeff, Tony and Dale, started as teenagers. Look at a Harry Gant or drivers back in the day that started in their 20s. It makes sense that these current guys who started young and came in at the right time making millions of dollars a year are leaving earlier. Their bodies have a lot of wear and tear. NASCAR knows we have to put a really big emphasis on Joey Logano now and guys like Brad Keselowski . Whether we like it or not, these guys are our next big superstars." NI: Speaking of Keselowski, his comment about NASCAR being an entertainment sport and not a fair sport after getting black-flagged on the restart was entertaining itself. Was it a case of sour grapes or did he have a beef there? HERMAN: "We always have conspiracy theories. I like Richard Buck, I've talked to him and he's invited me into the NASCAR trailer. I truly believe that Brad was just the first one; I don't believe that NASCAR made an example out of him. He was just the first one. If that's being made an example of, so be it. But that had major implications. This was not a normal race; it had championship implications. That's not an easy one to swallow. And when you get out of the race car like that, I think NASCAR recognized that you can't take what he said wholeheartedly even if he meant it. You gotta give that guy a break. It hurt and he was able to overcome it somewhat but he probably lost 5-8 points and that's a lot." NI: Kevin Harvick now faces a must-win scenario at Dover to advance in the Chase. Point blank: Should Rodney Childers have taken a more conservative approach at New Hampshire? HERMAN: "Because I'm a racer, I'm never gonna second guess. All I'm gonna say is this: They ran him out of gas at Watkins Glen and at New Hampshire and that could have meant bonus points. It is true that he shouldn't have run out of gas at either place. But I think what I've learned is why cut it so close because he's so fast and can pass people at will? I'm sure that they've learned that we'll never do this again." NI: Jimmie Johnson has won seven of the last 13 races at Dover. Does he get another victory in his 500th career start on Sunday? HERMAN: "I'm going on the record and picking Harvick to win Dover right now. He did a walkoff twice last year. He had to win Phoenix and he did. Then he went to Homestead and he won again. They're gonna lose a lot of sleep between now and Dover but I think he wins it. I'm going out on a limb. If Kevin Harvick does not move out of the first round, this will be one of the biggest upsets in the new modern era Chase format. I think Harvick will put the bumper to Jimmie to get it. If you look at the last two races there, Harvick should have won this fall race last year and then he ran second earlier this year. The one race he was dominating he lost a valve stem in the wheel. I just see Harvick doing whatever it takes." SUBSCRIBE NOW!
RELATED: Stewart press conference set for Wednesday LOUDON, N.H. -- Three-time premier series champion Tony Stewart will step away from Sprint Cup competition following the 2016 season, NASCAR.com has confirmed from multiple sources. A press conference at Stewart -Haas Racing 's North Carolina shop is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon to announce the plans, which will include naming Clint Bowyer to drive Stewart's No. 14 Chevrolet beginning in 2017. NASCAR.com will live stream the 1 p.m. ET announcement at NASCAR.com/presspass . Stewart , who won titles in 2002, 2005 and 2011, has 48 career Cup victories and is currently 25th in the standings. He and partner Gene Haas field four cars in the Cup ranks and won the 2014 championship with driver Kevin Harvick . Bowyer drives for Michael Waltrip Racing , which recently announced it won't field full-time teams next year. Bowyer's future plans, including the 2016 season, have not yet been announced. Motorsport.com first reported the story. MORE: Learn more about SHR