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Tony Stewart eliminated from Chase, no storybook end to career

The retiring three-time champion was knocked out of the Chase playoffs.

Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Tony Stewart's 18th and final NASCAR season won't end with another Sprint Cup title, as the three-time champion was knocked out of the playoffs Sunday at Dover International Speedway.

Stewart entered the first round elimination race needing to either win or erase an 11-point deficit to move above the cutline and become one of 12 drivers to advance to the quarterfinal round of the Chase.

But Stewart struggled throughout the afternoon and was never in serious contention. He finished 13th, one lap behind race winner Martin Truex Jr., and remained 11 points behind the 12th and final transfer position.

"We were much better than we were yesterday (in practice)," Stewart said. "Really proud of our team, we kept making [the car] better all day. That is good as we had."

Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray, and Chris Buescher were also eliminated.

Stewart earned a Chase berth by winning on the Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway road course in June. Having already announced his retirement at the conclusion of the season, many hoped the 45-year-old could end his certain Hall of Fame career on a high note.

It wasn't to be, however. In the four races preceding the postseason, Stewart finished no better than 21st, a slump that continued into the playoffs with finishes of 16th in the Chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway and 23rd last week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Before Sunday's race, Stewart offered a pep talk over the radio to his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team seemingly referencing the likelihood his Chase was reaching its close.

"We will give 110 percent the whole day," Stewart said. "I'll tell you one thing, this one race, whatever happens, is not going to define the season this team has had."