Whether from the world of open-wheel, NASCAR, dirt tracks or sports cars, the racing world is saying thank you and farewell to Tony Stewart ahead of his final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
In the above video from Mobil 1, released by Mobil 1 The Grid, AJ Allmendinger, Kevin Harvick, Jenson Button, Danica Patrick and Donny Schatz all thank Stewart for the memories of his career and for the guidance he’s passed on to them.
“He’s had an very impressive career, he’s been racing forever! Probably since he could walk,” Button recalled, as he too is set to pause his F1 career at year’s end, and as Mobil 1 is set to leave McLaren at year’s end.
“He doesn’t do just NASCAR and Sprint Cup, but dirt buggies and whatever he can get his hands on. He’ll still be racing, with a bit less pressure.”
Before moving into NASCAR full-time in 1999, Stewart won the 1996-1997 Indy Racing League championship, and the USAC triple crown in 1995.
That’s what drivers likely thought before the 2008 IndyCar opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
For the first time since 1995, major-league open-wheel racing in the United States was under the banner of a sole sanctioning body as Champ Car and the Indy Racing Leauge had reunified just a month prior.
The first race after reunification also saw a reversal of fortunes for Scott Dixon, who won the race after losing the 2007 IRL championship in crushing fashion.
In the 2007 season finale at Chicagoland Speedway, Dixon ran out of fuel while leading on the final lap of the race. The race victory – and championship – went to Dixon’s future teammate, Dario Franchitti.
But the tides turned for Dixon nearly seven months later, and the Kiwi was able to win with the help of another driver’s misfortune.
Tony Kanaan was leading with seven laps remaining when E.J. Viso spun and made contact with Kanaan’s car. Kanaan remained on track through the caution period despite suffering obvious damage to his right front suspension.
On the final restart with three laps remaining, Dixon and others cars easily passed Kanaan’s wounded car on the outside. Dixon then maintained his lead through the checkered flag to win at Homestead for the second time in his career.
“I think Marco (Andretti) and T.K. probably had a little bit better cars today, but we came through with the win, and that’s what counts,” Dixon told ESPN after his 12th career victory.
Following his victory at Homestead, Dixon continued to redeem himself through the course of the 2008 season. In May, he won the Indianapolis 500 for the first (and so far only) time. Following Indy, he went on to win four more times in 2008 and won his second series championship.
Also on this date:
1998: Mika Hakkinen won the Grand Prix of Brazil, the first of eight victories in his first championship season.
2010: Will Power won the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which was held on a Monday morning because of rain postponing the race on Sunday.