‘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.

 

 

Jes Ferreira selected as Comcast Community Champion of the Year

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Comcast announced Jes Ferreira as the 2022 Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award, the eighth to receive the annual award. Among all the turmoil of the pandemic, Ferreira looked for an opportunity to give back. Despite her heavy workload, she decided to take on an even heavier challenge, becoming a foster parent to two young girls. 

“I am overwhelmed, humbled, and blown away to be recognized as the Comcast Community Champion of the Year,” said Jes Ferreira, 2022 Comcast Community Champion, “the amount of support this will provide for the Charlotte foster families ensures the best services for these children. I hope this sheds light on the foster community and encourages everyone to support in many different ways.” 

Ferreira, originally earned a foster license to become a foster parent for one child, but a few months later, the child’s younger sibling needed a new foster home. Although Ferreira, Senior Director of Live Shows for CSM Production, already had a crazy work schedule which included traveling to the race track most weekends on top of fostering one child as a single parent, she knew without a doubt these two siblings deserved to be together while in foster care. Now two young siblings who are going through the most trying time in their lives have been reunited thanks to Ferreira. 

On any given day, there are nearly 424,000 children in foster care in the United States. In 2019, over 672,000 children spent time in U.S. foster care. On average, children remain in state care for over a year and a half, and five percent of children in foster care have languished there for five or more years.  

Ferreira’s affiliated charity is Foster Village Charlotte (FVC), an organization that allows foster parents to connect with and support each other. FVC collaborates with 16 private foster parent licensing agencies, local government, child welfare organizations and the community to serve families holistically and represent the foster family voice to Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services (DSS). 

To further honor Jes’ incredible dedication, Comcast will donate $60,000 to Foster Village Charlotte (FVC).

“Jes encompasses everything the Comcast Community Champion of the Year stands for. Anyone that is at the track knows how dedicated Jes is to the sport of NASCAR and, we are so glad we expanded the eligibility for this award so we can uncover and honor the compassion, selflessness and generosity Jes provides off the track, and that is what makes this honor so special, ” said Matt Lederer, Comcast’s Vice President, Brand Partnerships and Amplification.  

 Ferreira, was chosen by a panel comprised of Comcast and NASCAR executives, as well as Curtis Francois, the 2021 Comcast Community Champion, who received the award for his work with the Raceway Gives Foundation 

For the first time, Comcast opened the eligibility for anyone in the NASCAR community with a 2022 annual credential or NASCAR full season license, and with this expansion, Comcast is now able to share these exceptional stories.   

Josh Williams, driver of the #92 DGM Racing car for the NASCAR Xfinity Series and Sherry Pollex, founder of Sherry Strong, were selected as finalists and will be awarded $30,000 each towards their respective selected charities – the Ryan Seacrest Foundation and Sherry Strong. 

Comcast has a long track record of community service, aiding in the advancement of local organizations, developing programs and partnerships, mobilizing resources to connect people and inspiring positive and substantive change. To learn more about these efforts, visit the Comcast Community Impact site. 

About Comcast Corporation’s Partnership with NASCAR 

Comcast’s Xfinity brand entered NASCAR as entitlement partner of the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2015 and is now Premier Partner of the NASCAR Cup Series. Since then, the company has donated $840,000 to more than 20 different NASCAR-affiliated organizations to honor their efforts and to help further the impact of their worthy causes. Fans can visit ComcastCommunityChampion.com to learn more about past and present finalists and their acts of selflessness. 

Where are they now? Scott Riggs races with son, Layne

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Scott Riggs, who raced for 15 years in NASCAR’s top three national series, now is guiding the racing career of his 20-year-old son, Layne.

And things are going well.

Layne won this year’s NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Late Model championship, scoring 16 wins in 43 starts and edging former series champion Peyton Sellers by four points for the title.

Riggs thus became the youngest champion in Weekly Series history.

“It all started when Layne was 10 years old, mostly just something to entertain him and to have some fun,” Scott told NBC Sports. “But it’s turned into a full-fledged job. My life and plate have been full.”

MORE: NASCAR Power Rankings: Memorable quotes

The Riggs family’s race shop is located in Bahama, North Carolina, Riggs’ home base during his NASCAR career. Scott describes himself as the “truck driver, spotter, crew chief and in-shop mechanic.”

“I am very tired,” he said.

The team, which depends on volunteers, didn’t plan to race in so many events this season, but when Layne started the year with a string of victories, it made sense to chase the national championship and give him a chance to be the youngest winner ever.

“To chase it that hard and be that close and then to win it, it was very exhausting,” Scott said. “It was a very big relief to finish the year.”

Success on short tracks resulted in Layne racing in three Camping World Truck Series events this year with Halmar Racing. He had a best finish of seventh at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park in his series debut.

MORE: Snowball Derby attracts top NASCAR drivers

Scott Riggs ended his NASCAR driving career in 2014 in the Truck Series. He won five Truck races and four Xfinity races and ran 208 Cup races without a win. He made his Truck debut in 1999, moved to Xfinity in 2002 (winning Rookie of the Year) and then to Cup in 2004.

Riggs, now 51, raced in the Cup Series from 2004-13 with stops at MB2 Motorsports and with teams owned by Gene Haas, Tommy Baldwin and Ray Evernham, among others. He had four top-five finishes.

“I think I was very fortunate and the timing was right for me to move up through the ranks and get so many good opportunities,” Riggs said. “I raced late models for a long time, and then all of a sudden I got the opportunity to get in a truck. Won some races and poles and won races and poles in Xfinity.”

MORE: Jody Ridley’s upset for the ages

He ran out of chances in Cup as team models shifted, including some downsizing and mergers.

“I felt like I couldn’t get an opportunity that I had worked for and earned,” Riggs said. “It was hard for me. I was bitter for a year or so. But I look back, and a realization came over me that I was fortunate to have that time with my kids when they were at the right ages. I got to watch them do their things and just be the dad I wanted to be — not being gone four out of every seven days racing.

“I don’t think I’d have the relationship I have today with my kids if I had had a longer time in the sport.”

 

 

NASCAR Power Rankings: Memorable quotes through the years

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The best quotes from drivers and others involved in NASCAR competition often come in the heat of the moment — after a crash or a close finish or a controversial decision by officials.

NASCAR’s history is filled with memorable quotes from drivers who won races to drivers who watched wins slip away to officials caught in a moment of history.

Here’s a look at 10 that stand out:

NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings

1. “I didn’t mean to turn him around. I meant to rattle his cage, though.” — Dale Earnhardt, describing how he didn’t mean to wreck Terry Labonte after he wrecked Labonte on the last lap at Bristol Motor Speedway to win the Aug. 28, 1999 race.

2. “They have a golden horseshoe stuck up their ass. There’s no way to get around that.” — Kevin Harvick, Feb. 21, 2010, offering his opinion on why Jimmie Johnson and his Hendrick Motorsports team won so many races after Johnson outran him to win at Auto Club Speedway.

MORE: An upset for the ages: Jody Ridley wins at Dover

3. “It’s a stump-puller.” — Sterling Marlin, emphasizing the strength of his engine after he won the Daytona 500 Feb. 19, 1995.

4. “It’s probably not his fault. His wife wears the firesuit in the family and tells him what to do.” — Joey Logano, talking about Kevin Harvick after they were involved in a late-race crash at Pocono Raceway June 6, 2010. Harvick’s wife, DeLana, often wore a firesuit similar to those worn by team members during races.

5. “Do you have a brother?” — Ward Burton, responding to a reporter who asked if it was tougher to finish second because the race winner was his brother, Jeff, March 7, 1999 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

MORE: Memorable images from 2022 NASCAR season

6. “I couldn’t hear him. He’s got that little yap-yap mouth. I couldn’t tell what he was saying.” — Ricky Rudd, commenting on what Kevin Harvick said to him after they wrecked at Richmond Raceway, Sept. 6, 2003.

7. “We can’t race with tears in our eyes.” — team owner Robert Yates, explaining why his team would not participate in the next week’s race after its driver, Davey Allison, was killed in a helicopter crash, July 1993.

8. “He’d have to toast everyone with milk.” — Dale Earnhardt, commenting on the celebratory drink choice Jeff Gordon might make if he ever won the Cup championship. After he won the 1995 Cup title, Gordon followed through, toasting his championship with a glass of milk at the awards banquet.

MORE: 2023 NASCAR, ARCA schedules

9. “You know they say there’s talkers and doers. I’ve done this twice.” — Tony Stewart, winning the pre-race trash-talk contest with Carl Edwards prior to the 2011 race for the championship. Stewart had won the title in 2002 and 2005 and notched another over Edwards in 2011.

10. “This is undoubtedly one of the toughest announcements that I’ve ever personally had to make, but after the accident in Turn 4 of the Daytona 500 we’ve lost Dale Earnhardt.” — NASCAR President Mike Helton, confirming Earnhardt’s death at Daytona International Speedway, Feb. 18, 2001.

Honorable mentions: David Pearson, after being told that Richard Petty had said Pearson was the best driver he ever raced against: “I agree with him.” … CBS broadcaster Ken Squier, calling the famous finish of the 1979 Daytona 500: “And there’s a fight between Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison! The tempers, overflowing. They are angry. They know they have lost. And what a bitter defeat.” … NASCAR founder Bill France, providing a unique ending to a pre-race prayer after temporarily forgetting to use Amen: “Sincerely, Bill France.”

Snowball Derby entry list includes NASCAR Cup, Xfinity, Truck drivers

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Four Cup drivers are among those entered for Sunday’s 55th annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.

The Cup drivers entered are former series champion Brad Keselowski, playoff competitor William Byron, two-time Southern 500 winner Erik Jones and incoming Cup rookie Noah Gragson, who advanced to the Xfinity title race this year.

Also entered: Josh Berry, who competed in the Xfinity championship race this year, and Ty Majeski, who competed in the Truck championship race this year.

Majeski won the 2020 Snowball Derby. Gragson won the race in 2018. Jones won the event in 2012 and ’13.

Others entered include:

Chandler Smith, who won the 2021 Snowball Derby and will drive for Kaulig Racing in the Xfinity Series in 2023, is listed on the entry list but stated on social media he will not be competing.

The Snowball Derby is among the more prestigious Super Late Model races on the calendar and coming after the NASCAR season makes it easier for more Cup, Xfinity and Truck competitors to take part in the event.

Qualifying takes place Saturday. The Snowball Derby is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET Sunday. Racing America will stream Sunday’s race for $49.99. A three-day viewing pass can be purchased for $74.99.