By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
Tony Stewart’s made a lasting memory in Bristol Motor Speedway racing lore in his final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series appearance.
The three-time champion was running mid-pack when his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet began to undergo a vibration. Stewart pitted on lap 230 for a new set of tires in hopes it would fix the problem, but the issue never subsided and he was forced to go behind the wall for repairs, falling several laps down.
However, the 45-year-old Hoosier returned to finish 30th at the famed 0.533-mile concrete oval.
In most circumstances, a dreadful finish would leave a driver with a sour taste in his mouth, but Stewart was given a reason to smile and it was all due in large part to his friend, teammate and eventual race winner, Kevin Harvick.
The 2014 Sprint Cup Series champion went up to Stewart during the cool down lap and asked him to celebrate with him. The duo shared a celebration of donut-style burnouts before the fans at each side of the start/finish line.
An electric smile came across Stewart when he discussed his final Bristol race just moments after celebrating with Harvick.
“That is cool,” said Stewart of the memorable post race celebration.
“The funny part is he (Harvick) got out of his car, got the flag and then he goes ‘get in my car and go to Victory Lane with me.’ I went what? He goes ‘yeah, just leave yours here.’ I’m like I just can’t just leave my car there, but that was cool. I’m happy for these guys. This is a hard place to win at. There are so many things that can go wrong. All it takes is one thing. I mean we had a wheel that was loose and that messed our whole day up.
“That was cool sharing that moment with him though.”
With the reality that his next trip to Bristol will be solely as an owner, Stewart took the final part of the postponed Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race to relish last run as a driver.
“Well, I will see it in the spring,” said Stewart. “I will be back here (at Bristol). I just won’t wear a helmet when I come back here. It is cool. This place is so much fun.
“I told myself the last 10 laps we weren’t racing anybody, there wasn’t anybody around us, I said, just enjoy these last 10 and just savor the moment and think about it. So, that is what I did.
“I really thought about what I was doing those last 10 laps and kind of soaked it all in.”