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Tony Stewart gets roasted during “After the Lap” event

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Champion Jimmie Johnson will get all the attention Friday night during the annual Sprint Cup Series Awards in Las Vegas, but Thursday night was all about Tony Stewart.

The newly retired Stewart was a popular topic of conversation during the “After the Lap” event. All 16 Chase for the Sprint Cup drivers were on stage to answer questions and tell fun stories. It didn’t take long for the attention to turn to Stewart.

“Was there another reel because there was nothing from Tony on there,” said Jimmie Johnson after a video package showing scanner chatter from the Chase.

“There’s not enough time in this show for Stewart highlights,” chimed in Kyle Busch.

Said Stewart, “I get my own show when I do that and it’s got to be after 11, 12, after the kids are long asleep.”

Busch then put his phone to the microphone and played a clip of Stewart from Talladega Superspeedway in 2012. In it, Stewart used a sarcastic tone in talking about how NASCAR didn’t fill the quota of crashed cars.

By this time, Stewart had already had a few swigs of Johnson’s tequila and was getting warmed up himself. It was perfect timing as Austin Dillon then asked Stewart what he told Kyle Larson at Watkins Glen after Larson pulled out in front of him during his qualifying lap.

“What had happened was, young Kyle had went down to do his qualifying run, I went down to do my qualifying run, I waited for young Kyle to do his qualifying run, young Kyle pulled out and then stopped,” Stewart said. “Then when I took off, I had every intention of not stopping when I took off, young Kyle saw me coming, and then took off. Side-by-side down the backstretch at Watkins Glen.

“I didn’t make the bus stop. So I went and told young Kyle if he wanted to make the bus stop the next time he’d go when he went out for his qualifying run. And just like normal form, we have not had a problem since.”

As for Larson’s side of it, “Tony’s been mad at me more during a practice then he ever has been in a race.”

Kevin Harvick, who drives for Stewart, also chimed in with a story.

“One time I was standing there watching the race in Richmond as the team owner, dude’s driving my car, next thing I know my car’s gone. I’m like, ‘Where the hell my car go?’ This dude parks it in the middle of the garage in Richmond, decided that he wasn’t running good enough, so he just got out, parked the car, and left.”

Stewart was then surprised with the appearance of A.J. Foyt, his hero. Foyt made the trip to Las Vegas to celebrate Stewart’s NASCAR career.

“Jimmie, you’re a badass, but this is the baddest man on the planet right here,” Stewart said of Foyt.

After getting the sentimental part out of the way, the two traded barbs about their appearances and ages.

“The only thing I told Tony when he first started, don’t act like I do because I acted like a fool many times,” Foyt revealed.

Stewart, however, always did things his way during his 18-year career. So it was only fitting he responded to Foyt with: “How do you think that worked out?”

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My Home Tracks: New Mexico’s the Land of Enchantment and home of Cardinal Speedway

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The state of New Mexico is known more for IndyCar racing, with the Unser family being the state’s favorite sons.

Al Unser won four Indianapolis 500s, brother Bobby three and Al’s son Al Jr. a two-time winner (this weekend’s 500 marks the 25th anniversary of Little Al’s second 500 triumph).

But there’s a strong grassroots racing scene in the Land of Enchantment, particularly in the far southeast corner of the state at Cardinal Speedway, a half-mile dirt track in the little town of Eunice.

NASCAR America continues its My Home Track series of 50 states in 50 shows.

Wednesday, we visit New York state.

2018 NASCAR schedule changes: EVP Steve O’Donnell breaks it down (video)

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On Tuesday’s edition of NASCAR America, NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell joined us to discuss the NASCAR Cup schedule changes in 2018, including running a road race at Charlotte and having Indianapolis be the final race before the playoffs.

“I’m real excited about these changes,” said O’Donnell, who cited unprecedented cooperation between NASCAR, its teams, drivers and sponsors to reach agreement on the schedule changes.

Among the key changes: Las Vegas will kick off the 10-race playoffs in 2018 (Chicagoland Speedway, which will have hosted the last seven playoff openers, will return to its more traditional race date in early July/late June and serve as a run-up to the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona.

Several other changes include:

  • The fall playoff race at Charlotte will move up a couple weeks in the schedule and also incorporate competition on both the infield road course and part of the speedway itself.
  • After 14 years as the deciding race to qualify for the NASCAR Cup playoffs, Richmond International Raceway will now become the second race of the playoffs.
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway will see it’s Brickyard 400 go from late July to become the final qualifying race for the playoffs in early September.

Catch up on all the changes in the above video.

Tony Stewart pulled over by state trooper, but it’s not for speeding

Photo courtesy Damein Cunningham Twitter account
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Retired NASCAR Cup driver and team co-owner Tony Stewart was stopped by an Illinois State Trooper over the weekend near DeKalb, Ill., about 90 minutes west of Chicago.

But before you think Stewart was stopped for speeding by Trooper Damein Cunningham, he wasn’t.

Rather, Cunningham pulled Stewart over for improper lane usage, although exactly what the infraction was is unclear.

After getting a verbal warning, Stewart gladly posed with Cunningham for a selfie, which the trooper promptly tweeted out.

“Just pulled over NASCAR LEGEND Tony Stewart on I-88 in DeKalb, IL, what you think I got him for? #NASCAR #ISP”

But according to the Chicago Tribune, Cunningham’s bosses apparently didn’t have a sense of humor about the incident or realize the good PR it meant for the Illinois State Police.

That, or they’re not Stewart or NASCAR fans. They ordered Cunningham to delete the tweet, which he did.

It’s unclear what Stewart, who was stopped on his 46th birthday, was doing in the Land of Lincoln.

But his luck went from bad to worse a few hours later. According to USA Today, Stewart and others were stuck in an elevator in a Madison, Wisconsin hotel for about 20 minutes before being rescued by firefighters.

We can just imagine what the elevator riders talked about while trapped.

How much do you want to bet Stewart said, “Man, do I have a story about a cop that I have to tell you.”

Cunningham then posted another tweet on Sunday after attending church services.

 

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All-Star Race will remain at Charlotte in 2018

Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images
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NASCAR confirmed that the All-Star Race will be held again at Charlotte Motor Speedway despite more of a push from competitors and others to move the event.

Criticism was raised after last weekend’s 70-lap event featured only three lead changes. Kyle Busch took the lead on the restart to begin the final 10-lap stage and went on to win. It marked the fourth time in the last five years the All-Star winner led every lap in the final stage. In 12 All-Star Races at Charlotte since the track was repaved, there have been two lead changes in the final five laps.

Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations, was clear in a call with reporters Tuesday that the All-Star Race is set for Charlotte.

“We’ve finished our discussions for ’18,” he said. ” We’ll begin looking at ’19 and beyond in the near future.”

The All-Star Race debuted at Charlotte in 1985, moved to Atlanta in 1986 and returned to Charlotte the following year. It has been held at Charlotte ever since.

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