Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), finished 20th in his 18th and final NASCAR Sprint All-Star race after hard contact ended his night Saturday at Charlotte (N.C) Motor Speedway.
Stewart’s bid to win his second All-Star race ended on lap 20 in the second 50-lap segment when Chase Elliott, in traffic, slowed on the track in turn four to enter the pits. The field attempted to avoid Elliott, but the result was a multicar accident that saw Stewart make hard contact with Kasey Kahne, destroying the No. 14.
Stewart was not injured but admitted he was angered, both by the accident and by the officiating that had him down a lap to the leaders at the beginning of the second segment.
“I got in a wreck – I mean, (Elliott) wrecked everybody and put everybody behind him in jeopardy, and we got caught on the outside of it,” Stewart said.” I shouldn’t have been back there in the first place. We couldn’t even get clarification after the pit stop as to where we were even supposed to be, and then we restarted and find out we’re a lap down, and it’s like, how did that happen? How did that happen?”
Stewart had started the race in 17th and quickly moved to 14th in the first 10 laps. A combination of handling issues, an untimely caution, a penalty to race leader Matt Kenseth and confusion during a pit stop sequence dropped him a lap down to the leaders. Eight of the 20 cars in the race began the second 50-lap segment a lap down.
Stewart and crew could not figure out why NASCAR scored the No. 14 a lap behind the leaders and made repeated inquiries to NASCAR. The ruling forced Stewart to race near the back of the field, where the accident occurred that ended his race.
Until the accident, it appeared it was going to be a memorable night for Stewart. Sprint named him the grand marshal for his final All-Star Race. He gave the command for drivers to start their engines from the driver’s seat of the No. 14. Rain cancelled qualifying earlier in the evening, so NASCAR set the lineup for the first 50-lap segment based on owner points, positioning the No. 14 in 17th.