Smoke Makes His Final Start At Phoenix This Weekend

Tony Stewart

Tony Stewart will drive a full Mobil 1 paint scheme for the final time Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway in the penultimate race of his 18-year NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career. The three-time champion credits Mobil 1 for playing a role in not only the success of his career, but in his Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) organization’s recent accomplishments.


“Our partnership with Mobil 1 has paid off over the years,” Stewart said. “Their engine oil, chassis lubricants, gear oil – even their power steering fluid – helped us in so many ways. It’s about reducing friction, heat and rolling resistance and, after looking up at the results, I’d say their stuff has done a pretty good job.”


Smoke isn’t just blowing smoke.


He matter-of-factly credits Mobil 1 products for his winning the 2011 Sprint Cup championship. After going to the back of the field twice during the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway that year, Stewart finally caught Carl Edwards with about a third of the race remaining.


Stewart explains the rest.


“The crew chief came over the radio and asked me to start saving fuel,” Stewart said. “I start saving fuel and I’m sitting there watching Carl Edwards get smaller and smaller, thinking, ‘I hope this works out.’ The reason we were saving is because of the efficiency Mobil 1 gives us. We were able to stretch our fuel mileage because of the lower resistance, and he couldn’t.”


Stewart stayed on the track while Edwards, who led 119 laps in the race, pitted. Stewart eventually pitted and that strategy, combined with a caution for rain, kept Stewart ahead of Edwards. In the closing laps, the duo put on one of the greatest shows in NASCAR history, finishing first and second leading to a points tie with Stewart winning the championship on a tiebreaker.


“Mobil 1 enabled us to save fuel and put us where we needed to be at that point in the race, then carried us to victory,” Stewart said. “Most of the world sees Mobil 1’s shiny paint scheme each week and that’s great, but we see them as more than that. We see them as a team member and a partner.”


In October, ExxonMobil extended the Mobil 1 brand’s sponsorship of SHR in a multi-year deal. Mobil 1, the Official Motor Oil of NASCAR and the world’s leading synthetic motor oil brand, will have full primary sponsorships on SHR’s four top-tier series drivers – Kevin Harvick, Danica Patrick, Clint Bowyer and Kurt Busch – at various races throughout the year. The Mobil 1 brand will also remain an associate sponsor for all SHR drivers at all other races.


Since 2011, ExxonMobil has been providing lubricant technology support to the SHR team, which also helped Harvick earn the Sprint Cup championship for SHR in 2014. Stewart, who has represented Mobil 1 since the brand joined SHR in 2011, is retiring as a NASCAR driver at the end of the 2016 season. He will remain a Mobil 1 brand ambassador in his role as a team owner, as he co-owns SHR with industrialist Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation. Additionally, the Mobil 1 brand will be an associate sponsor of SHR’s new NASCAR XFINITY Series team for the 2017 season, where driver Cole Custer will run for rookie of the year.


Stewart has only Sunday’s Can-Am 500k at Phoenix race and the season finale at Homestead to earn his 50th career victory.  Phoenix has often served as a bright spot for Stewart, who made his first start at the “Jewel in the Desert” in the 1993 edition of the famed Copper World Classic. A mere 21 years old at the time, Stewart was competing in the season-opening USAC Silver Crown race, an event for which he qualified second to former IndyCar veteran Davey Hamilton. After leading 31 of the 50 laps, Stewart eventually finished second to Mike Bliss, who later went on to win the 2003 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship.


Six years later, Stewart returned to Phoenix yet again with rookie status but, this time, in the elite Sprint Cup Series. While the rookie label was applicable to Stewart in NASCAR’s premier division, it was anything but when it pertained to Stewart’s history at Phoenix. Prior to 1999, Stewart had raced USAC Midget and Silver Crown cars, Supermodifieds and Indy cars on the relatively flat, mile oval carved into the hillside of the Estrella Mountains. Stewart knew every inch of the track and, after starting 11th in the 43-car field, he took the lead for the first time on lap 87. He would go on to lead three times for a race-high 154 laps en route to the win, his second of three Sprint Cup victories that rookie season.


In the 17 years since winning in his first Sprint Cup start at Phoenix, Stewart has put together a record that, in addition to the win, includes eight top-five finishes, 12 top-10s, 551 laps led and an average finish of 14.0. And he’s done it all while being the model of consistency, completing all but 46 of an available 8,412 laps for a completion rate of 99.5 percent.


That record, combined with his Mobil 1 advantage and a more-than-familiar racetrack, could make for an exciting weekend in the Arizona desert.


TONY STEWART, Driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:

What are your thoughts on ExxonMobil?

“They are the largest company in the world, so having ExxonMobil with us is definitely a huge benefit, but the technology that they bring – it’s one thing to have a partner and a sponsor that can help support the projects that you need to be successful on the track. But, when you have somebody like Mobil 1 that can actually add to the technology side of your program and can physically help you make your racecar go faster, you can’t put a value on that.”


How long have you been racing at Phoenix?

“I started racing there in ’93, when I ran a USAC Silver Crown car. And since then, I’ve run USAC Midgets, Indy cars, Super Modifieds, Xfinity Series cars and, of course, Sprint Cup. So, I’ve logged a bunch of laps there. To think that it all kind of started at Phoenix, I guess you could say it’s the place where my career came full circle.”


What did the Copper World Classic mean to you when you were growing up?

“It was everything. Take what it’s like for us in the Sprint Cup Series to get ready for the Daytona 500 – that’s what it was like to come out to Phoenix for the Copper World Classic. As soon as the season was over, everybody got ready and started getting cars built for the Copper Classic. You literally built cars that were basically one-off cars, so to speak, just to run the Copper Classic. You put extra time, extra detail in them. It was the big one, for sure.”


What is your greatest story about racing at Phoenix?

“It’s hard because there are so many great moments. The first time I drove a Supermodified there, I think we were running 22-second or 23-second laps around there. One year, Ryan (Newman) and I had a great race where I was having motor trouble all day. I couldn’t seem to get the car off the corner. It stumbled a lot but, halfway down the straightway, it would come to life and I could use the draft following Ryan to get caught up. He ended up having an issue with two laps to go and we won the race. I remember another time in one of the early Silver Crown races I ran at Phoenix where I think we ran fifth to Jac Haudenschild. Jac was sideways all the way down through the dogleg on the backstretch. I would pass Jac through the corners and then, down the straightway, here he would come with smoke coming off the right-rear (tire). I thought, ‘Man, this guy’s tire is never going to make it.’ He made it to the end and he finished either third and I ran fourth, or he was fourth and I was fifth. That was one of coolest moments for me.”


Did you take an immediate liking to Phoenix in 1993 when you ran there in USAC?

“When we ran the USAC cars out there, it was pretty cool because I had never gone that fast before. It’s just one of those tracks where, to run a Midget and a Silver Crown car there, it definitely got your attention. It was pretty fast.”


How did you transition from one type of racing to another?

“It’s more fear than anything that I was going to have to get a real job if I wasn’t successful. That’s the great thing about running USAC and being in Indiana, where not only did we have winged Sprint cars and non-winged Sprint cars, Midgets and Silver Crown cars, we ran on dirt tracks one night and pavement the next. We ran Modifieds and Late Models. There were just so many things to drive around there that you learned how to adapt, and you learned how not to have a preconceived notion about how a racecar is supposed to feel and drive. You learned to read what the car was telling you as far as what it liked and disliked, and learned how to change your driving style accordingly. Especially at Phoenix, every car we’ve driven there, even though the track’s the same, they all drove differently. You just had to adapt to it and learn to read the racecar instead of thinking this is what the car I ran last night felt like and it’s supposed to feel like this today. It doesn’t work that way.”


How did you get so much experience at Phoenix before you raced there as a Sprint Cup rookie in 1999?

“Me and Arie Luyendyk were the two lead test drivers for Firestone when we were in the IndyCar Series. We spent a lot of time in Phoenix because the weather is so good out there all year long. We would spend three days out there tire testing and we had two or three of those sessions through the winter. I got to spend a lot of time running around Phoenix. I got to know every line around the track that’s ever been run and why it’s been run.”

Mobil 1 Team Report

Round 35 of 36 – Can-Am 500k – Phoenix

Car No. 14:      Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing


Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS
Danica Patrick, No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS
Kurt Busch, No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Chevrolet SS


At Track PR Contact: Drew Brown with True Speed Communication (704-498-7596 or

Primary Team Members:


Driver: Tony Stewart

Residence: Columbus, Indiana


Crew Chief: Mike Bugarewicz

Hometown: Lehighton, Pennsylvania


Car Chief: Jerry Cook

Hometown: Toledo, Ohio


Engine Specialist: David McClure

Hometown: Sacramento, California


Engine Builder: Hendrick Motorsports

Headquarters: Concord, North Carolina


Spotter: Bob Jeffrey

Hometown: Bristol, Tennessee

Over-The-Wall Crew Members:


Front Tire Changer: Ira Jo Hussey

Hometown: Manchester, New Hampshire


Front Tire Carrier: Brett Morrell

Hometown: Windham, Maine


Rear Tire Changer: Chris McMullen

Hometown: Canton, Michigan


Rear Tire Carrier: Josh Sobecki

Hometown: New Kensington, Pennsylvania


Gas Man: James “Ace” Keener

Hometown: Fortuna, California


Jackman: Getty Cavitt

Hometown: Owensboro, Kentucky


Windshield: Justin Peiffer

Hometown: Lebanon, Pennsylvania

Road Crew Members:


Truck Drivers: William “Stump” Lewis and Rob Fink

Hometown: Linkwood, Maryland and Baltimore, Maryland, respectively.


Engineers: Lee Deese and Chris Chidgey.

Hometown: Rockingham, North Carolina and Gainesville, Florida, respectively.


Mechanic: Tony Silvestri

Hometown: Sylvania, Ohio


Tire Specialist: Russell Simpson

Hometown: Medford, New York


Shock Specialist: Dave Hansen

Hometown: York, Maine


Pit Support/Fuel Runner: Daniel Coffey

Hometown: Granite Falls, North Carolina

Chassis No. 14-825
This car debuted in March 2014 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, where Tony Stewart qualified 37th and rallied to a fourth-place finish. It tested at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway April 30 to May 1 with Stewart, and again May 6 and 7 with Scott Riggs. Its second start came in June at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Stewart started 20th but, with the help of a strategic, two-tire pit stop on lap 241, he rose to ninth and never left the top-10 for the remainder of the 400-lap race. The car returned to Dover in September and put in a workmanlike effort, qualifying 15th and finishing 14th. Chassis 14-825 served as a backup at several 2015 races but did not log a start. In 2016, Brian Vickers drove Chassis No. 14-825 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, substituting for an injured Stewart. Vickers started 13th and raced as high as fourth before a pit-road spin on lap 112 of the 334-lap race. With less than 40 laps remaining, Vickers was caught up in a multicar accident that put him out of the race, leaving him with a 37th-place finish. Stewart returned to the car July 17 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. After starting 12th, then dropping to 22nd, he made the most of three restarts that took place during the race’s final 33 laps, driving from ninth to second and finishing 1.982 seconds behind race-winner Matt Kenseth. Stewart returned to New Hampshire with this chassis for the September 206 race but could not replicate the second-place finish posted earlier in the year. Instead, he started 22nd and finished 23rd.
Notes of Interest:
•    Sunday’s race marks Stewart’s 617th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start and his 28th Sprint Cup start at Phoenix International Raceway.


•    Stewart has career totals of 49 wins, 15 poles, 187 top-five finishes, 308 top-10s and 12,815 laps led in 616 Sprint Cup races.
    His most recent Sprint Cup win came June 26 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway.
    His last Sprint Cup pole came April 5, 2014 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
    Stewart missed the final 15 races of the 2013 season, three races in 2014 and the first eight races in 2016.


•    Stewart owns a win, eight top-five finishes and 12 top-10s and has led a total of 551 laps in his 27 career Sprint Cup starts at Phoenix. His average Phoenix start is 14.6, his average finish is 14.0, and he has a lap-completion rate of 99.5 percent.


•    Ty Dillon substituted for Stewart at Phoenix on March 13 as Stewart recovered from an offseason injury. Dillon finished 15th in the race.


•    Stewart has scored five top-five finishes and eight top-10s in 26 races he’s entered in 2016. 
•    Stewart’s second career Sprint Cup win came at Phoenix on Nov. 7, 1999 during his rookie season. In winning, Stewart set a track record for the fastest Sprint Cup race at Phoenix with an average speed of 118.132 mph. The race lasted 2 hours, 38 minutes and 28 seconds. It is a record that still stands.


•    Stewart and the late Alan Kulwicki are the only two drivers to win at Phoenix in their first Sprint Cup appearance at the track. Kulwicki won on Nov. 6, 1988.
•    “My, How Time Flies” – Stewart’s 100th career Sprint Cup start came at Phoenix on Oct. 28, 2001.


•    Stewart has run USAC Midgets and Silver Crown cars, Indy cars, Supermodifieds and NASCAR Xfinity Series and Sprint Cup cars at Phoenix.


•    Stewart’s last win at Phoenix came behind the wheel of a USAC Midget during the 2000 Copper World Classic.


•    Stewart has made three IndyCar Series starts at Phoenix. He won the pole in his second IndyCar race at Phoenix in March 1997 before leading 85 laps and finishing second. Stewart finished second again in March 1998, when he led 127 laps. His only IndyCar finish at Phoenix that was outside of the top-10 was an 11th-place run in March 1996, when he still managed to lead 11 laps in his first career race in the series. Combined, Stewart led 223 of the 600 laps available (37.2 percent).


•    It could be said that Stewart’s professional racing career began at Phoenix. It was February 1993 at the famed Copper World Classic where the season-opening race for the USAC Silver Crown division was held. In Stewart’s first ever race at the desert mile, he qualified second to Davey Hamilton – a former IndyCar Series veteran – and led 31 of the 50 laps before finishing second to Mike Bliss – the 2003 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion. The $3,500 payday for his second-place effort made eight-hour days at $5 an hour at the Columbus, Indiana, machine shop where Stewart worked seem unnecessary. Packing the rest of the 1993 season with Silver Crown, Sprint and Midget races across the nation, Stewart’s quick ascent up the racing ladder began.


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