‘Smoke’ through the years: A Tony Stewart timeline

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A look at some of the most memorable accomplishments — and outbursts — in Tony Stewart’s career:

  • Feb. 17, 1996 – Makes his debut in a national NASCAR touring series with the Xfinity Series’  Goody’s Headache Powder 300 at Daytona International Speedway. Stewart starts 34th and finishes 21st in first of 94 starts in the series.
  • May 26, 1996 – Starts first in his first Indianapolis 500 (after teammate and pole-sitter Scott Brayton was killed during a crash in practice). Stewart leads 44 laps but completes only 82 of 200, finishing 24th because of a malfunctioning pop-off valve.
  • 1997 – Captures the Indy Racing League championship with one victory and two podium finishes over 10 races.
  • Feb. 14, 1999 – Makes NASCAR Sprint Cup debut in the Daytona 500, driving the No. 20 Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing. Starts second and finishes 28th.
  • April 18, 1999 – Starts from the first of 15 Sprint Cup poles in the Goody’s Body Pain 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
  • May 30, 1999 – Stewart completes his first of two “Double” attempts by competing in the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. He finishes ninth at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and fourth at Charlotte Motor Speedway, later lamenting that he could have won with proper hydration and nutrition.
  • Sept. 11, 1999 – Becomes the first to win during his rookie season in NASCAR’s premier series since Davey Allison in 1987, leading 330 of 400 laps to capture the Exide NASCAR Select Batteries 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Stewart triumphs again at Phoenix and Homestead, winning rookie of the year.
  • Oct. 3, 1999 — Stewart is involved in multiple incidents with the late Kenny Irwin Jr. at Martinsville Speedway, the second of which puts Stewart’s car in the wall. As Irwin’s car approaches under caution, Stewart throws his heat shields at Irwin and reaches through his right-side window in retaliation. Stewart was fined $5,000 by NASCAR.
  • May 2000 – In a news conference at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Stewart apologizes and says he was misunderstood in a series of recent interviews in which he said expressed dissatisfaction with the state of NASCAR (saying some of his fellow drivers were “fake” and that Talladega fans were “obnoxious.”)
  • Aug. 13, 2000 – Stewart is involved in a postrace argument with Jeff Gordon at Watkins Glen International before they are separated by crewmembers. Stewart and Gordon had made contact in the opening laps.
  • Nov. 12, 2000 – Stewart wins the season’s penultimate race at Homestead, capping a season in which he won a career-best six times.
  • Feb. 18, 2001 – Stewart is taken to Halifax Medical Center after flipping violently and landing on teammate Bobby Labonte’s hood during the season-opening Daytona 500. He later reveals he was in an adjoining room when seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt arrived and was pronounced dead after a wreck on the last lap.
  • July 7, 2001 – In the circuit’s return to Daytona International Speedway, Stewart finishes 26th after being black-flagged for what NASCAR deemed an illegal pass. During a postrace tantrum, he slaps a tape recorder out of a reporter’s hand and kicks it under a hauler. He also confronts Sprint Cup director Gary Nelson. He is fined $10,000 and placed on probation.
  • Nov. 23, 2001 — Despite a tumultuous season, he finishes fifth in the season finale at New Hampshire and places second in points with three wins.
  • Aug. 4, 2002 – Stewart strikes a photographer after finishing 12th in the Brickyard 400. He is placed on probation.
  • Aug. 11, 2002 – Stewart wins at Watkins Glen International and confesses he spent the week worried about whether JGR and sponsor Home Depot would fire him for the incident at Indianapolis.
  • Nov. 17, 2002 – Stewart clinches his first Sprint Cup championship with an 18th at Homestead, wrapping up a season with three wins and 15 top-five finishes.
  • June 27, 2004 – In an altercation at Sonoma Raceway, Brian Vickers claims Stewart hit him in the chest while he sat inside his car. Stewart is placed on probation.
  • Aug. 7, 2005 – The Columbus, Ind., native ends an agonizing wait with his first victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the first of two Brickyard 400 wins.
  • Nov. 20, 2005 – Clinches second championship with a 15th at Homestead. His five victories comes during a seven-race stretch from June to August.
  • April 21, 2007 – Following a race with four caution flags for debris, Stewart compares NASCAR to professional wrestling during his talk show on Sirius Satellite Radio. He is lectured by officials a few days later at Talladega Superspeedway and placed on probation.
  • March 9, 2008 – Stewart lambastes Goodyear after finishing second at Atlanta Motor Speedway and says he is “going to go home and take everything that has Goodyears on it and put Firestones on and feel a lot safer.” He suggests Goodyear pull out of NASCAR if it can’t build a better tire.
  • July 10, 2008 – Stewart announces he will leave Joe Gibbs Racing after the season to become a co-owner-driver at Stewart-Haas Racing with Gene Haas.
  • 2009 – In his first season at SHR, the organization breaks through with its first victory, and Stewart scores four wins while leading the points for much of the regular season. He finishes sixth in the points.
  • Nov. 20, 2011 – Stewart wins the season finale at Homestead, his fifth victory in the Chase’s 10 races, becoming the first owner-driver to win a Sprint Cup championship since Alan Kulwicki in 1992. The surge comes after Stewart had declared his team unworthy of making the Chase in August.
  • May 6, 2012 – Stewart delivers a deadpan comedy routine during postrace interviews at Talladega, apologizing to fans because not enough cars had crashed.
  • March 24, 2013 — Stewart confronts Joey Logano in the pits after a 22nd at Auto Club Speedway, touching off a scuffle between their teams. He vows “I’m going to bust his ass” about Logano, who took over Stewart’s ride for four seasons after he left JGR.
  • June 2, 2013 – Stewart wins his most recent Sprint Cup race in the FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway.
  • Aug. 5, 2013 – Stewart breaks his right leg during a sprint car crash in Oskaloosa, Iowa and misses the final 15 races of the season.
  • Aug. 9, 2014 – In a race at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park, a sprint car driven by Tony Stewart strikes and kills Kevin Ward Jr. Stewart misses the next three races while grieving. He later claims in legal documents that he didn’t see Ward, who angrily had approached Stewart’s car under yellow after a spin. Ward’s family files a wrongful death lawsuit a year later.
  • Sept. 30, 2015 – Tony Stewart announces he will retire from Sprint Cup competition following the completion of the 2016 season.



Three Joe Gibbs Racing cars going to rear for inspection violations

inspection violations
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The cars of Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Erik Jones will start at the rear after each car failed inspection twice before Saturday’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Busch enters the race 18 points above the cutline to transfer to the second round of the Cup playoffs. Saturday’s race (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN). Busch was to have started ninth.

This is the second playoff race in a row that Busch’s team has failed inspection twice before the race and had to start at the rear. Busch started at the rear last weekend at Richmond. He finished sixth.

Hamlin has already advanced to the second round via points. He was to have started seventh.

“We’ve got 500 laps,” he said. “If we’re good enough, we’ll get to the front. Not really too worried about it in that sense.”

Jones is not in the playoffs. He would have started 20th.

NASCAR also announced that the cars of Corey LaJoie and Bubba Wallace will start at the rear for unapproved adjustments. JJ Yeley will go to the rear for a driver change since he was not listed on the preliminary entry list for the No. 15 car.

Wallace was to have started 27th. LaJoie was to have started 30th. The No. 15 was to have started 32nd with Brennan Poole as the driver.


Saturday Cup race at Bristol: Start time, TV channel

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Four drivers will be eliminated from the Cup playoffs after Saturday night’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

This marks the first time the track has been in the playoffs. The Saturday Cup race at Bristol will end the first round. The 16-driver field will be cut to 12.

William Byron (3 points behind the cutline), Cole Custer (-8), Matt DiBenedetto (-25) and Ryan Blaney (-27) are the four drivers out of a playoff spot. Clint Bowyer holds the final transfer spot.

Here is all the info for the Saturday Cup race at Bristol:

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines is at 7:38 p.m. The green flag waves at 7:45 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup haulers enter the garage (screening and equipment unload) at 10:30 a.m. Garage access health screening begins at 12:30 p.m. Garage opens at 12:30 p.m. Drivers report to their cars at 7:10 p.m. Driver introductions will be at 7:15 p.m. The invocation is at 7:30 p.m. The national anthem will be performed by Joe Nichols, three-time Grammy nominee, at 7:31 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 500 laps (266.5 miles) around the .533-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 125. Stage 2 ends on Lap 250

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will televise the race. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m with NASCAR America, followed by Countdown to Green at 7 p.m. Race coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. Performance Racing Network’s radio coverage will begin at 6:30 p.m. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the broadcast.

STREAMING: Watch the race on the NBC Sports App

FORECAST: The wunderground.com forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with a high of 62 degrees and a 3% chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST RACE: Brad Keselowski won at Richmond. Martin Truex Jr. finished second. Joey Logano placed third for the second race in a row.

LAST POINTS RACE AT BRISTOL: Brad Keselowski won in May after Denny Hamlin lost the lead when he hit the wall. Chase Elliott ran into Joey Logano as they battled for the lead late in the event.

TO THE REAR: Denny Hamlin (two inspection failures), Kyle Busch (two inspection failures), Erik Jones (two inspection failures), Corey LaJoie (unapproved adjustments), Bubba Wallace (unapproved adjustments), JJ Yeley (driver change).

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for Cup starting lineup


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Trevor Bayne says the fire remains to run more races

Cup playoff clinching scenarios to make Round of 12

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The first elimination race of the Cup playoffs has arrived in the form of Bristol Motor Speedway.

Tonight’s 500-lap race on the short track will determine which drivers make up the Round of 12.

Three drivers have locked themselves into the second round. Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski earned their spots via race wins at Darlington and Richmond. Denny Hamlin clinched a spot via points.

More: Brad Keselowski on pole for Bristol

That leaves nine spots for 13 drivers to compete for.

If there is a new winner, the following drivers could clinch by being ahead of the 10th winless driver in the standings.

Joey Logano – would clinch with 7 points: 51 points ahead of the Round of 12 cutoff. Logano has finished third in the last two playoff races (at Darlington and Richmond). Has made 23 starts at Bristol posting one pole, two wins, six top fives and 10 top 10s. Logano’s average finish is 15.3.

Martin Truex Jr. – would clinch with 20 points: 38 points ahead of the Round of 12 cutoff. Earned 22nd-place finish at Darlington and second-place finish at Richmond. Has made 29 series starts at Bristol posting two top fives and three top 10s. His average finish is 20.6.

Austin Dillon – would clinch with 21 points: 36 points ahead of the Round of 12 cutoff. Dillion has a runner-up finish at Darlington and a fourth-place result last weekend at Richmond. Has 13 starts at Bristol posting one top five and three top 10s. His average finish is 17.3.

Chase Elliott – Would clinch with 30 points: 28 points ahead of the Round of 12 cutoff. Elliott finished 20th at Darlington and fifth at Richmond. Has made nine starts at Bristol and has one pole, three top fives and four top 10s. Average finish is 12.6.

Alex Bowman – would clinch with 31 points: 27 points ahead of the Round of 12 cutoff. Bowman placed sixth at Darlington and ninth at Richmond. Has made nine series starts at Bristol with one top five and two top 10s. His average finish is 22.6.

Kyle Busch – would clinch with 40 points: Just 18 points ahead of the Round of 12 cutoff. Has seventh-place finish at Darlington and a sixth-place finish at Richmond. Has made 30 Cup starts at Bristol posting two poles and a series-leading eight wins among active drivers.

Aric Almirola – would clinch with 51 points: Seven points ahead of the Round of 12 cutoff. Finished ninth at Darlington and eighth at Richmond. Has made 22 starts at Bristol with one top five and two top 10s. His average finish is 25.0.

Kurt Busch – would clinch with 51 points: Seven points ahead of the cutoff sport. Almirola holds the tiebreaker of best finish in the current playoff round. Busch has finished eighth at Darlington and 13th at Richmond. Has 39 Cup starts at Bristol with one pole, six wins, 12 top fives and 21 top 10s. Average finish is 14th.

Clint Bowyer – would clinch with 55 points: Three points over cutoff. Finished 10th at Darlington and Richmond. Bowyer has made 29 Cup starts at Bristol with eight top fives and 16 top 10s. Average finish is 13.6.

William Byron (-3 points from cutoff; would need help to clinch): Finished fifth at Darlington and 21st at Richmond. Five Cup starts at Bristol with one top 10. Average finish of 17.2.

Cole Custer (-8 points; would need help to clinch): Finished 12th at Darlington and 14th at Richmond. Finished 25th in lone Bristol Cup start.

Matt DiBenedetto (-25 points; would need help to clinch): Finished 21st at Darlington and 17th at Richmond. Eleven Cup starts at Bristol with one top five and one top 10. Average finish of 19.1.

Ryan Blaney
Ryan Blaney is last on the 16 driver playoff grid heading into Bristol. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Ryan Blaney (-27 points; would need help to clinch): Finished 24th at Darlington and 19th at Richmond. Ten Cup starts at Bristol with one top five and three other top 10s. Average finish of 20.7.

More: Blaney and DiBenedetto seek history to advance to second round

Should there be a repeat winner Saturday – Harvick or Keselowski – the following drivers would advance to the next round by being ahead of the 11th winless driver in the standings.

Joey Logano: Would clinch with 4 points

Martin Truex Jr.: Would clinch with 17 points

Austin Dillon: Would clinch with 18 points

Chase Elliott: Would clinch with 27 points

Alex Bowman: Would clinch with 28 points

Kyle Busch: Would clinch with 37 points

Aric Almirola: Would clinch with 48 points

Kurt Busch: Would clinch with 48 points

Clint Bowyer: Would clinch with 52 points

William Byron: Would clinch with 55 points

Cole Custer, Matt DiBenedetto and Ryan Blaney: Could only clinch with help

Xfinity race results, point standings after Bristol

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Chase Briscoe led the final six laps and won Friday night’s Xfinity Series race at Bristol for his seventh win of the season.

Briscoe beat Ross Chastain for the win. The top five was completed by Austin Cindric, Harrison Burton and Justin Allgaier.

Click here for the race results.

Playoff standings

The 12-driver field for the playoffs has been set with Briscoe’s win in the regular-season finale.

Brandon Brown placed 12th and clinched the 12th and final spot.

Here are the re-seeded point standings entering the playoffs.

Chase Briscoe – 2,050 points

Austin Cindric – 2,050

Justin Allgaier – 2,033

Noah Gragson – 2,025

Brandon Jones – 2,020

Justin Haley – 2,018

Harrison Burton – 2,014

Ross Chastain – 2,010

Ryan Sieg – 2,002

Michael Annett – 2,002

Riley Herbst – 2,001

Brandon Brown – 2,000

Click here for the re-seeded standings.

Click here for the normal point standings.