In the middle of what should have been an amazing weekend for Tony Stewart, Smoke has shown that he is had enough and Homestead can’t get here soon enough for him.
Coming off his solid run in Michigan, Stewart was running in the top-five in practice at Sonoma when he came up on slower cars heading into turn 11 and it set off the fireworks. Later in practice, Jamie McMurray cut him off and received the one-finger salute from the three-time champion.
After practice, Stewart said to the gathered media, “I’m ready to go run stuff that makes me happy and driving a Sprint Cup car does not make me happy right now. A lot of things have changed. The atmosphere has changed. There is so much stuff in the garage area that has changed that it was time for me to make a change with it.
“I’ve dedicated 18 years of my life to this series and it’s done great by me,” Stewart said. “I’ve made a great living doing it, but at the same time, there are other things in life I want to do other than be at a NASCAR track three days a week for 38 weekends out of 52 weeks a year. There are just other things I want to do now.”
Reading Stewart’s quotes to the media makes me wonder about the shape NASCAR is in as a sport. One thing that Stewart has said was when he was coming up, drivers learned from Mark Martin, didn’t cross Dale Earnhardt and would get a lecture from Rusty Wallace if they didn’t obey the unofficial rules of practice or the race.
Folks, please take notice. NASCAR is a better place with Tony Stewart in the race car and in the garage. Tony Stewart basically said yesterday he can’t wait to be done with NASCAR. That is sad.
The state of NASCAR is up in the air.
The majority of competitive NASCAR team owners are in their 60s and 70s, Who is the next group of racers who want to own teams? How many drivers are in cars because they bring sponsorship with them? Paul Menard, Brian Scott and Danica Patrick are drivers who are either funded by family companies or just a marketing machine and probably not in their rides without the sponsorship they bring to the table.
The XFINITY Series can’t develop the next group of drivers because they will run with the funding Cup drivers bring with them to theXFINITY Series rather than take a chance on a good young driver like Ryan Truex, Corey LaJoie and Brandon McReynolds.
Attendance is down everywhere and television ratings are down, where is the opportunity to grow the sport?
The television contract with Fox Sports 1 and NBC Sports Network put more races on cable networks that are building an audience from scratch and people are too fickle or lazy to go searching for what channel it is on.
A couple comments from a post-practice interview yesterday, really made me question where does NASCAR go from here? Think about it, if Tony Stewart doesn’t want to be in Sprint Cup racing, why would anyone else want to watch it?