NASCAR: Stewart - Retirement 'sounds like a good time to me'

NASCAR: Stewart - Retirement 'sounds like a good time to me'

Cup Series

NASCAR: Stewart - Retirement 'sounds like a good time to me'

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Tony Stewart was in rare form on Friday afternoon at Sonoma Raceway as the three-time Sprint Cup champion fired several colorful – but insightful – remarks about his final season, the current state of NASCAR and why he decided to step away from the highest level of the sport.

He was inducted into the Sonoma Hall of Fame alongside Ernie Irvan and took questions from the media immediately afterward. He had just finished first practice at the California road course and had posted the 18th fastest lap.

But he left the session unhappy, believing that Jamie McMurray had interrupted one of his better timed laps. The experience left him in a classic temperamental Smoke mood.

What are you going to miss the most about driving in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series?

“I don’t know. Not much after practice this morning. I had Jamie McMurray screw us up on a lap. He was trying to do a qualifying lap and some of the things some of these guys do nowadays just doesn’t make sense. When we had Dale [Earnhardt] Sr., Rusty Wallace and Dale Jarrett – those guys they were able to get their arms around these [younger drivers] and get them to listen and do things that make sense.

“There is really nobody here that can do that anymore. Everybody is out of control out there.”

Why are you stepping back if you’re still competitive?

“Because I’m ready to go drive cars that make me happy, and driving a Sprint Cup car doesn’t make me happy right now. Like I said, a lot of things have changed. The atmosphere has changed. There is so much stuff in the garage area that has changed that it was time for me to make a change with it.

“I’ve dedicated 18 years of my life to this series and it’s done great by me. I’ve made a great living doing it, but at the same time there are other things in life I want to do other than be at a NASCAR track three days a week for 38 weekends out of 52 weeks a year. There are just other things I want to do now … I really want to go to Monaco and see the Monaco Grand Prix or I really want to go to Knoxville, Iowa, and be out there for the A-main of the Knoxville Nationals or the Kings Royal at Eldora. There are things I want to do that because of our schedule you don’t have time to do it. There is just not enough time to do everything you want to do. It’s time for me to do this.

Are there non-racing things that you want to do?

“Yeah, I’m just not sure what they all are yet. That is the thing. When you have raced for 38 years that is all you know, it’s all you think about, that is all you dream about. When you wake up you are thinking about it, while you are eating breakfast that is all you do. I just can’t imagine that there is not more to life than this. I know there is. I know people that talk about it all the time. I’ve got friends like Don Prudhomme and Ray Evernham and guys that are already retired that talk about how much fun they are having. I’m like, man that sounds like a good time to me.”

What will the future of the sport be without veterans like yourself?

“I’m not even going to talk about those guys. It’s not worth it. I’m getting inducted into a wall of fame. I’m not worried about those guys right now.”

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