LOL: The lighter side of Tony Stewart’s retirement announcement
Throughout his NASCAR career, Tony Stewart has been one of the best when it comes to giving colorful – and sometimes off-color (like when he’s ticked off at another driver) – quotes.
And Clint Bowyer has certainly had his share of zingers and funny one-liners.
Despite the seriousness of Wednesday’s announcement that Stewart will retire after the 2016 season and Bowyer will replace him in 2017, they both held true to form with a number of great comments.
Here’s some of the best from Stewart and then Bowyer.
Tony Stewart quotes:
How will NASCAR react to his retirement: “The great thing is I’m not going anywhere. NASCAR is probably going to be the most disappointed of everybody today because they aren’t getting rid of me. They have to deal with me as an owner. There’s still the opportunity to get fined and there’s still the opportunity to be put on probation, just like always, just from a different capacity than now.”
What will 2016 be like for him: “This added year is not just a ride-it-out year. This is we’re going to gouge our eyes out and do everything we can to win races and win another championship. I’m looking forward to that.”
His future plans after NASCAR: “And we’ve got one more thing before I let Gene (co-owner Gene Haas) talk. A lot of you probably were here yesterday or some of you might have been here for the press conference here in the same room yesterday for Gene’s Formula 1 announcement. The one variable he left out, I know it was just probably a miscue, but he announced his full-time driver next year in the F1 car. He didn’t announce his second driver for the F1 team, and you’re looking at him.”
On who will replace him in the No. 14 Chevrolet: “We’re bringing Harry Gant out of retirement. His hair still looks immaculate, but another guy that has immaculate hair and a great personality and has a very similar background to mine and passion for motorsports outside of NASCAR is the guy that’s going to take over the No. 14 Chevrolet, and that’s Clint Bowyer.”
More on Bowyer: “We’re probably going to have a hard time working together and communicating with each other. We probably won’t have any fun racing.”
How will Stewart’s hero, A.J. Foyt, react to his retirement announcement: “He’s probably going to yell at me like he normally does when I call him. I’m sure I’m going to get a bunch of grief over this.”
On whether he was joking about going F1 racing: “Who said I was joking?”
What does he want to remember about being the only driver to win championships in both IndyCar and NASCAR: “As much as I can because every time I crash I seem to forget more stuff.”
He threatened to quit numerous times in his career. What made him finally decide to do so: “There were days I felt like a dealer at the end of my shift at a blackjack table and clapped my hands and was able to turn around and walk out of the building. That was the emotion talking on those days.”
On the discussions he had with himself about retiring: “I’ve learned a lot about myself. There’s a lot of personalities in my head I’ve had to talk to lately. It’s been like a chat room.”
Does he want a retirement tour like Jeff Gordon: “Okay, let’s establish this right now: I will not be coming to the media center every week to talk about it. You can save your gifts. I’ve got enough rocking chairs at home as it is. I bought those when I wanted to go sit on my own rocking chair. You don’t have to give me one. … I think what the tracks and the fans have done for Jeff Gordon is very fitting, and I know Jeff doesn’t want it to be a retirement tour. I don’t think I’ve looked at it as a retirement tour. I think what everybody has done is shown their respect for what he’s done for the sport of auto racing and for Cup and what he has done for motorsports as a whole. I’m not really that kind of guy. I’m content to go race and be around the racing community and the racing family and be around our fans. They can just send me a note from the track president and say, ‘Hey, thank you,’ and that’ll be sufficient for me.”
Will he miss the media: “If you guys miss me that bad, you guys can send me text messages and say we really miss you in the media center.”
Will he spend more time in his hometown of Columbus, Ind.: “I don’t want to sound like a softy because I’m not, but I like fall and I like being home when the leaves change. I don’t like long walks on the beach and candlelit dinners and all that, but I do like watching the leaves change at home, so I am looking forward to that.”
Will you ever race again in the Indianapolis 500: “No.”
On whether he’ll still pay occasional “visits” to the NASCAR hauler after he becomes a full-time owner: “I think there’s a really good possibility I’ll get invited to the trailer like I used to years ago. I see that being very realistic. If you go in the trailer and you see my name embroidered on a chair you’ll know I’m thinking the same way. I made sure to send Helton and O’Donnell messages this week and say, listen, don’t get too excited about this because I’m taking a suit and helmet off but I’m still going to be at the track harassing everybody, so nobody is getting a free pass now.”
On memories of his first Sprint Cup win at Richmond in 1999: “I was skinnier, I didn’t have any gray hair. I mean, I remember it being one of the coolest races, I thought, at that point in my life. I was racing Dale Sr., Dale Jarrett, Jeff Burton, Bobby Labonte, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, and those were the six guys consistently throughout that race that I got to race, and to be able to just -- we had a great car that night. We led 333 of the 400 laps, and to race that group of those six guys and beat them, I mean, that was when I felt like I truly belonged in the sport that night.”
On what he’ll do at races once he stops driving: “I’ll be wherever they want me. Wherever I’m going to be the biggest asset, that’s where I’ll be. If I’m not going to be an asset, I’ll hang around the backstretch and have fun and go sightseeing.”
Clint Bowyer quotes:
To Stewart: “Damn, I’m glad that you decided to retire and open this seat up for me.”
On what he thought when he first heard Stewart was going to retire: “Definitely when I heard that that seat was open, I was on board. They didn’t have to call me.”
On how fortunate he is to get this opportunity, especially with this season’s highs and lows, including Michael Waltrip Racing shutting its doors at season’s end: “I don’t think I got fired; it just went away and somehow you landed in a way better situation. Do you ever hear that term when you fall in a pile of cow manure and come out smelling like roses? That’s exactly what this is for me.”
(To which Stewart added, “I don’t know if that’s going to be the quote of the day or not. I can see that being the headline. Somebody has got to use that as a headline tonight. I’ve got to read that somewhere.”)