Stewart finishes his long good-bye to Sprint Cup racing

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Always a Racer/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, greets fans as he is introduced prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2016 in Homestead, Florida. (Getty Images)
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Always a Racer/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, greets fans as he is introduced prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2016 in Homestead, Florida. (Getty Images)
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Always a Racer/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, greets fans as he is introduced prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2016 in Homestead, Florida. (Getty Images)

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Sunday started better for Tony Stewart than it ended.

Before the Ford EcoBoost 400, Stewart was greeted warmly by crew members from every Sprint Cup team as he drove down pit road. He was mobbed by well-wishers before he started his final laps on the track.

That Stewart finished 22nd, two laps down, may have been anti-climactic to the uninitiated, but it marked the end of an enormously successful career for the three-time series champion, who finished his Sprint Cup tenure with 49 victories at NASCAR’s highest level.

“I raced,” Stewart said. “I did what I do every time I get in the car. I didn’t think of anything else other than just racing the race. We got behind there, and we tried something to make ground and got caught out and had to run 60 laps on a set of tires.”

Stewart derived more enjoyment from seeing Jimmie Johnson win his record-tying seventh championship.

“I’m proud,” Stewart said. “It’s been an awesome 21 years racing in NASCAR with the XFINITY Series and the Cup Series. That’s really cool to see that No. 48 (Johnson) up there making history. Now we’ve got three guys in the seven-win club. Pretty proud day. I was glad I got to race with him on the day he got his seventh.”

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