“He Was Ready to Strangle Me” – Tony Stewart on When He Told Joe Gibbs That He Was Leaving


Back in 2017, Tony Stewart spoke about racing for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR). Additionally, he talked about an incident between himself and the former NFL coach and NASCAR team owner, Joe Gibbs. At the time, Stewart had just retired from racing but was still involved in the sport with the Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) team.

However, the Joe Gibbs Racing team handed him his debut in 1999 and he raced with them until 2008. Along the way, he bagged two Cup Series titles in 2002 and 2005. However, he soon decided that he wanted a new challenge and set up his new team, saying that Joe Gibbs inspired him to be a car owner.

Tony Stewart revealed that he tried his hardest to recruit Kyle Larson
DAYTONA BEACH, FL – FEBRUARY 17: Team owner Tony Stewart stands on the grid during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 61st Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2019 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Unfortunately, the JGR team’s namesake didn’t take Stewart’s departure well. Stewart said, “I remember the day. He was ready to strangle me, the day that I walked in and said that I was going to be leaving Joe Gibbs Racing. The moment that he stopped trying to strangle me was when I said, ‘I have the opportunity to be like you.’ That’s when he let go of my neck.

“It was kind of hard to argue with that, when you’re saying that you’re trying to be like one of your heroes.”

What has Tony Stewart been up to since then?

Admittedly, the SHR team was established in 2002. However, it was known as Haas CNC Racing, before Stewart came on board and the team was rebranded as Stewart-Haas Racing. Tony Stewart would soon go on to win a third Cup Series title in 2011 with SHR. In all, he walked away from the sport with 49 wins, just shy of a half-century.

He also finished in the Top 10 on 308 occasions and bagged 15 pole positions. All in all, Stewart had a hugely successful career, and even raced in IndyCar. Now that he has retired, the 49-year-old can truly focus on co-managing the Stewart-Haas Racing team.