NASCAR announced prior to the trip to Bristol Motor Speedway that it would expand its list of Greatest Drivers from 50 names to 75. Now, it has unveiled the first addition to this list — Tony Stewart.
Mike Helton surprised Stewart with the news during FOX’s pre-race show on April 9. He was set to be the honorary starter for the Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, but he first took time to add another prestigious honor to Stewart’s Hall of Fame resume.
“Everybody knows we are celebrating our 75th anniversary, and you can’t do that without celebrating the 75 greatest drivers,” Helton said. “In 1998, we picked 50, and there’s a group of folks inside the industry who picked 25 to add to that list.
“And we’re going to start celebrating them for the next five weeks leading into Darlington, and we’ll have all 25 notified and have a big shindig in Darlington around the 75 Greatest Drivers in NASCAR. But it’s an honor tonight, Tony, to let you in on the fact that you’re one of our 25 and now one of our 75 Greatest Drivers.”
Stewart Delivered 49 Cup Series Wins
Stewart, the 1997 IndyCar Series champion, has achieved success in a variety of racing series. He has several championships to his name and even more wins spread across NASCAR, IROC, USAC, and SRX among others.
Stewart’s impact on the NASCAR Cup Series, in particular, was immense. He made his full-time debut in 1999, and he won Rookie of the Year after winning races at Richmond, Phoenix, and Homestead-Miami while driving for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Stewart continued to add wins during his time in the Cup Series, headlined by a career-high six in 2000. Though the 2002, 2005, and 2011 seasons were more meaningful overall considering that he won three championships — two with JGR and one with Stewart-Haas Racing.
Stewart won 49 times in the Cup Series before retiring. This is a run that included 15 straight seasons with at least one trip to Victory Lane. Smoke also won the Brickyard 400 twice while adding Crown Jewels to his resume.
Stewart Has Achieved Success as an Owner
Smoke secured his spot in the Hall of Fame while driving the No. 20 for Joe Gibbs Racing and the No. 14 for Stewart-Haas Racing. Though he has only added to his legacy as a team owner after joining forces with Gene Haas.
Several drivers have combined to win 69 total Cup Series races under the SHR banner. Stewart accounted for 16 of them while Chase Briscoe and Cole Custer have one each. Clint Bowyer and Aric Almirola each won two times in SHR machines while Ryan Newman won four times. Kurt Busch won six times, including the 2017 Daytona 500.
Kevin Harvick has achieved the most success with SHR. 37 of his 60 career Cup Series wins have been with SHR. This includes the 2020 season when he celebrated in Victory Lane nine times. The Closer also won the 2014 Cup Series championship in his first year with the organization.
SHR is not a perennial championship contender in the Cup Series, but the organization has continued to add wins to its total since its inaugural season in 2009. It will continue to do so while working with one of NASCAR’s 75 Greatest Drivers.