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Tony Stewart Fast Facts

CNN Editorial Research

Here’s a look at the life of retired NASCAR driver and race track owner Tony Stewart.


Birth date: May 20, 1971

Birth place: Columbus, Indiana

Birth name: Anthony Wayne Stewart

Father: Nelson Stewart

Mother: Pam Stewart (now Boas)

Marriage: Leah Pruett (November 21, 2021-present)

Other Facts

Three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion (2002, 2005, 2011).

Owns Eldora Speedway, a dirt race track near New Weston, Ohio.

Owner of Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) and co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR).

Earned the nickname “Smoke” because that’s what other drivers saw coming from his tires as he steered through turns on asphalt tracks. He is also referred to as the “Rushville Rocket,” “Tony the Tiger,” “The Columbus Comet” and “Big Orange.”


1979 – Stewart wins his first competitive race in a go-kart in Westport, Indiana.

1980 – Wins his first championship at age eight in a go-kart.

1991 – Stewart is named United States Auto Club (USAC) Rookie of the Year.

1995 – Stewart is the first driver to win the Midget, the Sprint and the Silver Crown all in one season.

1996 – Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year.

1997 – Indy Racing League Champion.

February 14, 1999 – Sprint Cup debut at the Daytona 500.

1999 – National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) Winston Cup Series Rookie of the Year (now called the Sprint Cup Series).

November 2000 – Forms Tony Stewart Racing.

March 2001 During a race at the Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee, Stewart bumps Jeff Gordon’s car on a pit road. He is fined $10,000 and placed on probation through August 2001.

July 2001 – Immediately after the Pepsi 400, Stewart confronts Winston Cup Director Gary Nelson, in the process batting a tape recorder out of a reporter’s hand and then kicking it under a truck. Stewart is fined $10,000 for the incident, and his probation is extended through the rest of the season.

August 2002 – NASCAR officials fine Stewart $10,000 and place him on probation for the rest of the season after hitting a photographer following a race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Stewart announces he is undergoing anger management counseling.

November 2002 – Wins his first NASCAR Winston Cup championship.

2004 – Establishes the Tony Stewart Foundation, which focuses on caring for at-risk or endangered animals, critically or chronically ill children and drivers injured in motor racing.

November 2005 – Wins his second NASCAR Winston Cup championship.

2009 – Becomes a driver/owner with Stewart-Haas Racing after establishing the company with Gene Haas.

June 2009 – Is the first driver/owner to win a Sprint Cup race since 1998.

2011 – Wins his third Sprint Cup title, becoming the first driver/owner to win the championship since 1992. Stewart wins the title on a tie-breaker, as he had five wins for the season compared to Carl Edwards’ one.

August 25, 2012 – After a collision, Stewart throws his helmet at Matt Kenseth’s car during a race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee.

August 5, 2013 – Stewart crashes while racing on a dirt track at Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa, Iowa, breaking two bones in his right leg. The wreck ends his racing season.

August 9, 2014 – Stewart strikes and kills 20-year-old sprint car driver Kevin Ward Jr. during a dirt track race in Canandaigua, New York. Ward’s car hits the wall, knocking him out of the race. Stewart hits Ward after he steps out of the vehicle and onto the track. Soon after, the Ontario County Sheriff’s Department begins an investigation into Ward’s death.

August 31, 2014 – After skipping three other NASCAR races, Stewart returns to the racetrack at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

September 16, 2014 – It is announced that the evidence gathered after Tony Stewart’s race car struck and killed another driver who was walking on the track will be given to a grand jury.

September 24, 2014 – The Ontario County (New York) District Attorney announces that a grand jury found no reason to charge Stewart in connection with the on-track death Ward. The grand jury had heard testimony from more than two dozen witnesses and reviewed photos and videos before making its decision.

August 7, 2015 – Attorneys for Ward Jr.’s family file a wrongful death lawsuit against Stewart.

September 30, 2015 – Stewart announces he will retire from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at the end of the 2016 season.

January 31, 2016 – Suffers a burst fracture of the L1 vertebra in an ATV accident in California, causing him to miss the first eight races of his final NASCAR Cup season.

November 20, 2016 – Drives in his final Sprint Cup race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

April 2018 – Stewart and the family of Kevin Ward Jr. settle the wrongful death lawsuit.

January 31, 2020 – Is inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

March 4, 2020 – Stewart announces he will drive in the Xfinity race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 4th, 2020. On June 4, it’s announced that he has pulled out of the race because of the coronavirus pandemic and logistics.

August 21, 2020 – Stewart returns to racing with an appearance at the Wilmot Raceway in Wisconsin, which opened for the season in June.

October 14, 2021 – Announces that TSR will join the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) as a team owner in 2022.

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