Report: Tony Stewart to retire from NASCAR after 2016 season – USA TODAY
LOUDON, N.H. âÂ For months, the NASCAR garage has been buzzing about a plan that would see Tony Stewart retire after 2016 and Clint Bowyer take over the seat of the No. 14 Chevrolet beginning in 2017.
Now that speculation appears to be approaching official status.
Citing unnamed people, Motorsport.com and ESPN said they had confirmed Sunday evening that 2016 will be Stewartâs last season, and Stewart-Haas Racing laterÂ announced a news conference scheduled for Wednesday..
SHR did not respond to a request for comment Sunday night, but spokesman Mike Arning told USA TODAY Sports on Aug. 19 there was nothing official to announce yet.
âOur focus is on finishing 2015 strong and getting as many of our drivers into the Chase as possible,â he said in AugustÂ when asked about the possibility of Bowyer replacing Stewart.
The last few years have been filled with turmoil for Stewart, a three-time champion who was once a regular winner on the Sprint Cup Series circuit. The 44-year-old future Hall of Famer won 47 Cup races from 1999-2012, but has just one win in the past three seasons.
A crash while racing sprint cars on an Iowa dirt track cost Stewart the final 15 races of 2013Â âÂ withÂ a severeÂ leg injury which came with a lengthy recovery processÂ âÂ and he was then involved in a sprint car incident that killed Kevin Ward Jr. in New York last year.
The Ward tragedy changed Stewart forever, he told reporters earlier this year, and the aftermath continues to play out in the civil courts (the Ward family has sued Stewart for wrongful death).
Stewart is the co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, which currently has two drivers in the Chase for the Sprint Cup âÂ Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch. Stewart, 25th in points, missed the playoff this year along with teammate Danica Patrick.
Bowyer, recently released from Michael Waltrip Racing after the team announced it will shut down at the end of this season, will likely move to HScott Motorsports for one year and then move to SHR after Stewart retires.
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PHOTOS: Behind the wheel with Tony Stewart