Stewart enjoys "the most relaxing Brickyard I’ve ever had"

Tony Stewart enjoyed one last sentimental journey around Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday.

Stewart enjoys "the most relaxing Brickyard I’ve ever had"
Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing
Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing
Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing
Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing
Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing, helmet
Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing
Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing
Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing

With the support of his staff, the three-time NASCAR champion coined it, “the most relaxing Brickyard I’ve ever had.”

“And the most fun I’ve had at a Brickyard,” Stewart added. “It was fun to win those two races, but it was stressful to do it. For some reason this weekend, everybody just made my schedule as open as they could to let me enjoy it and we did. We had a lot of fun this weekend from start to finish.”

After qualifying third on Saturday, Stewart led the field around the track on the pace lap and told listeners on the pre-race broadcast he felt the No. 14 Mobil 1 Chevy had a shot at the win.

Stewart easily maintained a presence among the top 10 competitors throughout the early stages of the race. He was 10th when the race went green after the second caution on Lap 59 —and resembled the old Smoke after gaining four positions on the restart. 

Speeding penalty and late-race chaos

But misfortune prevailed 60 circuits later, when Stewart was penalized for speeding entering the pits. As the No. 14 car rolled down pit road, David Ragan cut a tire and crashed into the Turn 3 wall for the third caution. 

"I know they're right, because I didn't know if I got slowed down at the end of the segment,” Stewart radioed to the crew.

Stewart apologized profusely — and repeatedly — to his team after NASCAR forced the No. 14 to drop off of the lead lap and to the end of the longest line. Once the field was reset, Stewart lined up 30th. In the first two laps, Stewart moved up to 24th and set his sights on the lucky dog position. 

With race winner Kyle Busch lapping half the field, the beneficiary was a moving target. However, two cautions later, Stewart returned to the lead lap with 10 scheduled laps to decide the contest. 

On the Lap 154 restart, Carl Edwards made contact with Ryan Newman. Stewart was one of several cars that received damage in the melee.

“I hit pretty good here too, damn it,” Stewart said as NASCAR red-flagged the race for 7:25

But the driver of the No. 14 was far from the finish. Although he moved up to 14th and avoided the wreck between Clint Bowyer and Trevor Bayne on the backstretch, when Jamie McMurray changed lanes and cut off Stewart, the eighth caution ensued and collected Brian Scott and Newman. Stewart recovered, lined up 12th and gained one position to finish 11th in his 18th and final start at IMS.

“I really did the team wrong here,” Stewart said after the race. “I got a penalty on the last stop and that is a green flag stop that turned into a yellow and got us a lap down.  But we fought and got our lap back  and got something respectable out of this.  Didn’t leave anything out there.”

Although the Columbus, Ind. enjoyed an extra 25 miles around the 2.5-mile Yard of Bricks when the race was extended by 10 laps of overtime, the three-time Sprint Cup champion wasn’t ready to bid farewell to his home track. He had his spotter Bob Jeffrey find T.J. Majors, who was spotting for Jeff Gordon, so the future Hall of Famers could take one final lap.

“It was cool,” Stewart said. “I knew when we got the checkered we just didn’t want to come in just yet. I wanted to run one more lap and Jeff was around us and before that last green run I told my spotter to go get his spotter and said after this thing is over, we need to go a lap around here together because most likely is the last time we’ll both get a chance to do that. I couldn’t think of a better guy to share that moment with than Jeff.

“I can say that just ranks in the top three coolest moments of my 18 years in this series. To share that moment with Jeff here at Indianapolis I don’t know. I don’t even have the words for it. That is a moment that I will remember for the rest of my life.”

"We're just having fun"

With his 11th-place finish, Stewart has gained 80-points over Chris Buescher who is 31st in the standings. After missing the first eight races of the season, Stewart, who moved up to 27th,  must remain in the top 30 in the standings to maintain his Chase status. 

“We’re just having fun with it and that’s what we said we wanted to do at the start of the year and we wanted to have fun and win a race and we’ve done all that,” Stewart said. “I don’t think we’re quite done yet. So, we’re just going to keep having fun and going for it. 

“I put us way behind today with a penalty that got us a lap down and at the back of the longest line and to battle back to 11th, I’m pretty proud of that for our whole team.”

shares
comments
Stewart and Gordon share one-lap salute after final Brickyard 400
Previous article

Stewart and Gordon share one-lap salute after final Brickyard 400

Next article

Analysis: Can NASCAR ever make the Brickyard 400 great again?

Analysis: Can NASCAR ever make the Brickyard 400 great again?
Load comments
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Prime

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle Larson had to reach his lifelong goal the hard way and go through a very public shaming after a ban for using a racial slur, but his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines...

NASCAR Cup
Nov 10, 2021
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Prime

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR Cup
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Prime

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR Cup
Oct 5, 2021
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Prime

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organization - which underlines his enduring value

NASCAR Cup
Aug 31, 2021
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021