Steve Byrnes tracks down Tony Stewart after a post-race incident with Joey Logano at Auto Club Speedway.
'Smoke' made contact with Justin Allgaier, got into wall RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings Tony Stewart was running 10th during Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway when he got into the No. 51 Chevrolet of Justin Allgaier on Lap 236, essentially ending his chance for a top-10 finish. Stewart lost control during contact, spun out and hit the wall, bringing out the eighth caution flag of the day. "Smoke" had been running aggressively throughout the day, knocking Austin Dillon out of the way earlier. He had also initiated contact with Ricky Stenhouse Jr . Stewart's No. 14 ride was repaired and returned to the track three laps down, and outside the top 35. Shortly after his return to the track, he hit the wall again, bringing out another caution. The veteran finished in 39th place and completed 282 of 312 laps. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today
Three-time champion scores best finish of season in Auto Club 400 RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings FONTANA, Calif. -- A 14th-place finish for the Stewart -Haas Racing No. 14 Chevrolet wouldn't normally feel good or elicit smiles. But it's the best showing for Tony Stewart this year, and the three-time champ was at least feeling encouraged when he climbed out his car following Sunday's Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway . A late-race gamble not to pit during a caution period that came out on the last scheduled lap put him in second place just behind another race gambler, Jeff Gordon . And while they were both promptly passed on that start and again on a second green-white-checkered overtime a couple laps later -- the end result for Stewart was progress. "We just had to do the opposite of what everyone else did," Stewart said. "It wasn't the best-case scenario for us, but we had to take a chance." Two of Stewart's teammates, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch , were challenging for the win Sunday, ultimately finishing second and third, respectively. It's the eighth consecutive time Harvick has finished first or second -- dating back to the final three races of his 2014 Sprint Cup Series championship season. Harvick leads the standings by a hefty 28 points over Joey Logano , giving Stewart the official lead in the owner standings. But when it comes to his own results behind the wheel, Stewart has struggled this year. The 14th-place finish is only the second top-30 effort of the season and moves him up four positions in the standings to 32nd. He still trails Busch, despite having five starts to Busch's two. Stewart's previous best finish of the year was 30th at Atlanta three weeks ago. He finished 33rd and 39th in the last two races at Las Vegas and Phoenix, respectively. On Sunday, however, Stewart's No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet ran among the top-15 for nearly half of the race (95 of the 209 laps). And Stewart thought it would have been a legitimate top-10 car before a brush with the No. 78 Chevy driven by Martin Truex Jr . "He (Truex) had a problem with someone else and I paid the price for it," Stewart said motioning toward the middle of his front hood which sported a large area of black duct tape. "I wasn't delusional that we were going to win the race or anything but if he's got a problem with someone else and got his hand out the window changing three lanes and (he) drives back across punching a hole in my nose." But, Stewart added with a slight smile, "we're gaining on it. We got to where we were sniffing the edge of the top-10 anyway all day. We're gaining on it a little chunk at a time. We didn't need to get it all today anyway. "But this is a big gain for us for sure." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Three-time NASCAR champion will become sole owner of organization CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart has entered into an agreement to purchase the All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Car Series. The announcement, made Wednesday, stated that Stewart has agreed to terms with series owner Guy Webb to become the sole owner of the organization. "My passion for sprint car racing is well known," Stewart said in a release, "and the All Star Circuit of Champions ... series has been a pillar of the sport for a long time. "Racing is my business and I look forward to building the series' already impressive legacy by taking it to a new level of success and sustainability." Stewart , co-owner of the four-car Stewart -Haas Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series organization, has continued to compete in sprint cars throughout his NASCAR career. Incidents in the past two seasons, however, have left many wondering if his extracurricular racing activities should be either curtailed or stopped entirely. In 2013, Stewart suffered a broken right leg in an accident while competing at a sprint car race in Iowa. The injury forced Stewart to miss the final 15 races of the '13 NASCAR season. Last August, Stewart was again competing in a sprint car race when his entry struck and killed a fellow driver, Kevin Ward Jr. Stewart sat out three NASCAR races while dealing with the emotional and legal turmoil. Although he was cleared of any wrongdoing in the incident, Stewart said the fatality was something that would stay with him "forever." Dirt track racing makes up a large part of Stewart's business endeavors, and includes ownership of Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio as well as Tony Stewart Racing, a successful World of Outlaws race team. Webb said he had put his "heart and soul" into the All Star Circuit, "and it gives me great peace of mind to hand over the reins ... to Tony Stewart . " Tony is dirt track racing's biggest advocate, and he's always working in the best interest of sprint car racing." The series, which is not tied to one specific sanctioning organization, has a 50-race schedule in store for the 2015 season. The first event of the new year is scheduled for Feb. 5-7 at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Florida.
Driver receives black flag after not taking mandatory driver weigh-in Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live " Vote: Ultimate Daytona Challenge DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- On-track performance might weigh on Tony Stewart's mind. But off-the-track weighing clearly wasn't on his mind before Friday's Sprint Unlimited practice at Daytona International Speedway. Stewart was the subject of the season's first summons to the NASCAR hauler, just after opening practice began on the 2.5-mile track. The consultation came moments after his Stewart -Haas Racing No. 14 Chevrolet received the black flag. The three-time Sprint Cup Series champion had neglected to take the mandatory driver weigh-in before the track was open. He initially ignored a radio communication to report back to the garage, resulting in the hauler call. Stewart brushed past reporters, vehemently refusing comment after series officials bent his ear. But Stewart issued a statement of sorts via Twitter: Well NASCAR felt compelled to make me the first to be called to the trailer 10 min into the first practice of the year. #greatstart #NASCAR — Tony Stewart (@TonyStewart) February 14, 2015 Stewart wasn't the only driver who failed to pay a visit to the scales before Friday's pair of Sprint Unlimited practices. Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer were both required to weigh in after initially getting into their cars and taking to the track. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Tony Stewart exchanges words with Martin Truex Jr. following the race at Auto Club Speedway.
Cain: Just as Earnhardt did before him, 'Smoke' wonders if this is the year Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live During the mid-1990s, it was almost a Daytona 500 rite of passage. Long before there were formal organized Media Days, sometime between pole qualifying day and the qualifying races the great Dale Earnhardt would saunter into the cramped and dated old Daytona International Speedway media center, bust a few chops and pat a couple reporters on the back as he navigated the tight quarters to take a seat -- often in a folding metal chair in the corner, summoning reporters to come over to him instead of vice versa. Sunglasses on, he'd lean back in his chair and, depending on his mood, smile or grimace. Sometimes he waited to be asked the perennial question: "When are you going to win the Daytona 500?" Other times he just cut to the chase himself. Some years he was philosophical, other times frustrated, always he was hopeful. He'd won every single other race at NASCAR's iconic track -- most of them multiple times including a mind-boggling 10 straight qualifying races (now known as the Budweiser Duels). Although Earnhardt clearly came to both expect and dread answering questions on why he, a seven-time champion and the sport's greatest active driver, hadn't won the sport's greatest race, he always acted like each year was going to be "the" year. And finally in 1998 it was. I never saw him more genuinely happy and exuberant -- The "Intimidator" sporting a grin so wide it seemed like his mustache might touch his earlobes. Twenty years later, it's a similar scene with another beloved champion, Tony Stewart . As Earnhardt did, Stewart has taught school on the Daytona high banks, hoisting trophies from sports car races to IROC races; after Daytona 500 qualifiers and summer night 400-milers. And like Earnhardt, it's obvious that the questions of whether he will ever win NASCAR's big one have understandably gotten stale and annoying to Stewart . The two greats -- one an inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame member, the other a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer -- are shining examples of one of the sport's most mystifying quagmires. It took Earnhardt, a seven-time Cup champion, 20 years of trying before he won the Daytona 500. In the meantime, Derrike Cope (1990) and Sterling Marlin (1994-95) scored their first career series wins in the Great American Race. Michael Waltrip notched his first Cup trophy in the 2001 Daytona 500 after more than 460 starts. And 20-year-old Trevor Bayne scored his first and only Cup win in the 2011 500. Yet former series champions Rusty Wallace -- a NASCAR Hall of Famer -- along with champion brothers Terry Labonte and Bobby Labonte are a combined 0-for-77 in the Daytona 500. Mark Martin, one of the sport's most successful drivers, is 0-for-29 in the race. And for the most part, these greats don't even have a lot of near-misses to ponder. Wallace's best finish was third in 2001. Martin won the pole in 2010, had a dramatic runner-up showing in 2007 and a third-place finish in 1995. Terry Labonte has a pair of second-place finishes a decade apart in 1986 and 1997. Bobby Labonte had a sole runner-up in 1998, one of only three top-10 finishes in 22 starts. As he has become accustomed to in recent years, Stewart -- mostly -- patiently answered the Daytona 500 questions again this month. He joked that he was willing to sacrifice a body part to celebrate in NASCAR's most iconic Victory Lane. He's analyzed and Monday morning quarterbacked the late lap moves that shoulda-woulda landed him there. Until Stewart finally kisses that Harley J. Earl trophy, his quest to win the Daytona 500 will be one of the most interesting and compelling subplots of the sport's biggest race. But his success in the 500 is not what defines Stewart as one of NASCAR's greatest champions. Instead, it's the dogged pursuit of that dream that inspires and captivates. Every year, win or lose. And as Earnhardt did each February for two decades, Stewart has every reason to believe that this is his year. "Not until the day that I don't run here anymore,'' Stewart said of abandoning hope of a Daytona 500 win. "Everybody has got a shot here, so it's just a matter of ‑‑ we've been in that position before. … At least that gives you confidence that you've got a shot. "If anybody looks at my career and says because I haven't won a Daytona 500 that I didn't have a good career, I'd want to say they really don't know what they're talking about." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Stewart -Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch also caught up Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live " Vote: Ultimate Daytona Challenge MORE: Complete Sprint Unlimited results A wreck involving Tony Stewart on Lap 68 brought out the second red flag of the Sprint Unlimited. RELATED: See the best photos from Saturday's race Stewart was running inside the top three at the time of the wreck, when he appeared to get loose and then made contact with Greg Biffle. The red flag was withdrawn within a few minutes. Biffle took a hard hit into the wall from the wreck. Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch were also involved in the accident. Gordon finished seventh, Kyle Busch finished eight and Stewart finished 13th, while Biffle was 14th and Kurt Busch was 15th. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Once an outlet, does racing provide same comfort? RELATED: Subscribe to NASCAR Illustrated The news on that Sunday morning shocked the NASCAR world, and soon the rest of the country was horrified, too. In a dirt-track race in upstate New York, Tony Stewart struck and killed another driver. From beginning to end, the Kevin Ward Jr. tragedy was unprecedented. Even with racing's history of being cloaked in death, nothing like this had ever happened. Ward crashed after contact with Stewart . He left his wrecked car and walked down the track to confront Stewart while Stewart turned laps under caution. Stewart's car hit Ward, and he died a short time later at a hospital. That happened late on Aug. 9, a Saturday night. By Sunday morning, video of the accident had been posted on YouTube. The tragic death was bad enough. The attacks on Stewart were dark and disturbing, too. It was as if people on social media took sides on a story that had no sides. They seemed to decide they couldn't mourn for Ward and feel empathy for Stewart at the same time. All of which made this the worst story of this (and almost any other) season. The "sports as escape" idea is a cliché that also happens to be true. Drivers, football players, baseball players, whomever, all speak of the field of play as a respite from the pressures of everyday life. But what if that field of play is also the source of those pressures? It seemed impossible Stewart would find any calm when he climbed back into his No. 14 Sprint Cup Chevy for the first time in Atlanta after missing three races. He was dealing with crushing guilt and grief. What difference could racing make with pain like that, considering racing caused the pain? But there Stewart was, taking the first laps in the restart of his life. All of his fellow competitors welcomed him back, and many of them said getting in the car would be a key step for him in his healing process. Stewart seemed to think that, too, if for no other reason than being in the car would give him something else to think about, something else to do for a few hours. Stewart remained composed while reading a prepared statement in front of the media, but it was obvious that he was a mess, that grief still gripped him. He looked broken, pale, washed out, like he hadn’t slept since the accident. He looked like a man wondering what he should do with the rest of his life. Stewart normally lives his life in NASCAR’s public eye, but he nearly disappeared after Ward’s death. He looked and sounded much better when he took questions from reporters on Sept. 29 than he did in Atlanta. He looked better still when he was interviewed after the fall race at Martinsville, his only top-five after his return. He had been invisible for so long that his sudden appearance on TV to talk about having a fast car was almost jarring. When Stewart -Haas Racing driver Kevin Harvick won the Sprint Cup championship, Stewart joined the celebration and the postrace press conference. "There's a lot of things I would love to change about the last 18 months of my life, but tonight is not one of them," Stewart said. "I'm going to enjoy this moment." What's next for Stewart ? Nobody knows. On and off the track, his life remains unsettled. He has said he probably won't race in sprint cars again, and that seems like a wise move, considering the August accident and a previous one that left him with a broken leg that caused him to miss 15 races last season. His average finish in Cup races in 2014 was 20.0, the worst of his career by nearly four positions. He went winless for the first time, and it's fair to ask (and impossible to answer) how much of his struggles were tied to the Ward accident. He wasn't having a good season before Ward's death, and he was even worse after. There are questions off the track, too. He could face a civil suit from Ward's family. Perhaps the only closure so far came when the criminal case ended. Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo sent the case to a grand jury, which declined to pursue charges against Stewart . In announcing that, Tantillo also said Ward had marijuana in his system at a level high enough to impair his judgment. In the court of public opinion, that closed the case. With the absence of charges, the public moved on quickly. But Stewart didn't. He said several times that the tragedy would follow him for the rest of his life. Racing had brought Stewart the greatest joys of his life. Now it has wrought his greatest sorrow. SUBSCRIBE NOW!
'Smoke' sets Texas track record and makes NASCAR history in second round RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today FORT WORTH, Texas -- For the first time in NASCAR history a driver topped 200 mph in a qualifying lap on a 1.5-mile track, and it was Tony Stewart who did the honors in the second of three rounds of qualifying on Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway . Stewart set the track qualifying record with a lap of 200.111 mph, breaking the previous record of 198.282 mph set by Kevin Harvick in April of 2014. The man known as 'Smoke' lit up the leaderboard with the lap of 26.985 seconds and gained the attention of Chase drivers such as Coors Light Pole Award winner Matt Kenseth . "I never dreamed we'd see a lap time like that around here unless they paved it," Kenseth said. "It's incredibly fast." For Stewart it was a highlight in a difficult season, and it came on the heels of a top-five finish at Martinsville. That was Stewart's first top-five since March at Auto Club Speedway , and combined with the good qualifying run gives Stewart something to build on as he looks towards the 2015 season. Stewart was surprised when he broke the 200-mph barrier, saying over the radio, "Didn't look that fast." Although he set the record in the second round, Stewart ended up qualifying sixth and will share Row 3 with teammate Kevin Harvick for the start of Sunday's AAA Texas 500 (3 p.m. ET, ESPN). He expressed some regret about not being able to hit the top speed in the third round of qualifying but was still pleased with the record. "It is always cool to be the first guy to be able to do anything," Stewart said. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule