Obviously Tony Stewart's announcement Wednesday that 2016 will be his last year behind the wheel in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series was huge. Tony has meant a lot to our sport. Tony is one of those rare individuals with a God-given talent who can drive and win in about anything he sits in.
A lot of times I think all of Tony's accomplishments fly somewhat under the radar of some of the other drivers who have retired in our sport. Just in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series alone, he has won three championships. That is pretty rare air as Tony is only one of nine drivers to win three or more titles in the entire history of NASCAR.
In my book, when you go grab a dictionary and look up the word "Racer," you won't find a written definition; you will simply see a picture of Tony Stewart. In some ways this is going to be sadder to me to see Tony retire than maybe some of our other champions retire. I applaud Tony for having the guts to make this tough call, because let's face it: For whatever the reasons are, he's not competitive.
I don't like seeing drivers who have accomplished so much, like what Tony has done, just hang on too long just for the sake of wanting to keep racing. I know this decision has to be incredibly hard. I can't relate to it, because I was a crew chief. I never was a race-car driver. None of us can relate to it unless you've been a race-car driver with the success that Tony has enjoyed, and then called it quits.
Again, I applaud Tony for making the hard choice. The man has been beat up mentally and physically the last few years and he's decided it's time to step aside. It did make me smile in Wednesday's press conference that Tony specifically said he's not retiring from all racing, but simply the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Even though he won't be driving in Cup, mark my words: Tony Stewart will still play a huge role in our sport. It's going to be sad, but I am glad Tony is going out on his own terms.