Tony Stewart: “He was ready to strangle me”
In 1999, Tony Stewart burst onto the NASCAR Cup Series scene with Joe Gibbs Racing. He won 3 races in his debut season and took home the ‘Rookie of the Year’ award.
He spent the next 18 years as a full-time NASCAR Cup Series driver. Stewart claimed 3 NASCAR championships and won 49 races along the way.
Does he miss it?
“No, I haven’t missed it,” Tony Stewart told reporters at Homestead-Miami Speedway. “Like I’ve said all along, I feel like I get to have the best of both worlds.”
I get to go race the dirt cars that I love racing.
“I get to go race the dirt cars that I love racing. And I still get to be here and participate as an owner on the weekends.”
Tony Stewart is busy. He’s co-owner of the 4 car Stewart-Haas Racing operation. He also has a dirt racing schedule that was expected to be 70 races, at the start of 2017. Then, he’s the owner of Eldora Speedway, a 1/2 mile dirt track.
“It’s because of Joe [Gibbs] that I even tried to do something like this and be a car owner. I always respected Joe and we’ve got a great relationship.”
He was ready to strangle me
“He was ready to strangle me the day that I walked in there and said that I was leaving Joe Gibbs Racing.”
Between 1999 and 2008, Tony Stewart won 33 races and two championships for Joe Gibbs Racing. Needless to say, Joe Gibbs didn’t need him to go.
“But, the moment that he stopped trying to strangle me was when I said, ‘I have the opportunity to be like you.’ ”
“That’s when he let go of my neck.”
Tony Stewart went on to win 16 more races as an owner/driver. He won the championship again in 2011, in just his 3rd year of operation.