For racing icon Tony Stewart, the yr 2021 has launched pretty the mixed bag. In his particular personal life, the three-time NASCAR Cup Collection Champion has expert The enjoymalest of getting engaged to NHRA drag racer Leah Pruett. Professionally, Stewart has furtherly overseen the revenueable launch of the Superstar Racing Expertise, a series which he each co-personals and gained The primary-ever championship in.
However in Stewart’s most excellent job as a NASCAR automotive proprietor, 2021 has conagencyed to be terribly vexing. After revenueable 10 occasions Inside the Cup Collection in 2020 — plus 9 Xfinity Collection wins with Chase Briscoe — Stewart-Haas Racing has been mired in an extreme dpersonal yr in efficiency and competitiveness: It took The agency till July to win a race, with Aric Almirola scoring the group’s solely victory So far. Kevin Harvick, after revenueable 9 races final yr, has zero wins and Instead relied on factors to earn a Cup Collection playoff berth. Harvick is The one SHR driver Inside The very biggest 20 in factors, as Almirola, Briscoe, and Cole Custer all rank between Twenty second and Twenty eighth Inside the pre-playoff standings.
All this as Stewart has Desired to lamalest A critical missed alternative: Presently final yr, Stewart publicly advocated for Kyle Larson, who he had critical curiosity in hiring to drive for SHR regardless of his standing as a pariah all by way of a suspension from NASCAR for using a racial slur. Stewart’s efforts To lease Larson have been overruled by Ford, and he has since Wanted To watch Larson be employed by Hendrick Motorsports, win a season-extreme 5 Cup races.
This week, simply forward of The final race of the NASCAR Cup Collection common season at Daytona Worldwide Speedmethod, Tony Stewart sat dpersonal with CBS Sports activities To debate SRX, NASCAR, and completely diffelease primeics.
Q: I am going to Start out asking about SRX. It has been over a month now As a Outcome of The primary season ended, and there Seems to be A lot Of pleaconstructive for the series’ future and what extra It might do. What Have you ever and Ray Evernham carried out So far When it Includes planning for SRX in 2022, and do you anticipate any elements of the series will look completely diffelease subsequent yr than they did this yr?
Tony: “Clearly after The primary season You are gonna make tweaks and modifications, but terribly Proud of the product obviously. Joyful with The fact that after Week 1 we took the followers’ feedagain and have been In a place to implemalest that for The subsequent 5 weeks. I particular personally Want So as to add a road course race to the schedule subsequent yr, undoubtedly Taking A look at driver lineups and potential modifications Inside The driving strain lineup for subsequent yr. However actually Proud of the product. I really feel it was properly acquired by the followers – the scores conagencyed that, the feedagain conagencyed that – and Eager about it.
“The essential half proper Now’s securing the funding to do it. To have that many race automotives and to be on the road for six straight weeks and have these mans in lodge rooms and All of the gear that We now Want to not solely buy or lease to run all That is costly. So securing the funding for subsequent yr is An monupsychological key proper now. However As quickly as We will Do this, I really feel Just like the quantity of modifications for subsequent yr Shall be very small.”
Q: A pair of of The favored parts of SRX wAs a Outcome of the native all-star automotive, which gave A pair of drivers from the grassroots diploma their shot at racing on a nationwide stage – And Inside the case of Luke Fenhaus, it actually launched him into the spotlight in a method revenueable the Slinger Nationals alone Could not. With how important money has Discover your self to be in racing and What quantity of grassroots mans Do not get a shot because They will not market themselves to a sponsor or no matter, how important do you assume SRX Is usually as a springboard for launching drivers to prominence and permitting them to further their automotiveeers?
Tony: “I really feel It is large, And that i am An monupsychological, huge fan of Luke’s. Spoke to him The completely diffelease day as a matter of actuality. I really feel A toddler like that deserves a shot. He racks up spectacular quantitys and race wins and prime 3s, prime 5s, but all of That Does not get proven on a nationwide stage. So for SRX To have The power To assist curleasecase his expertise, I really feel that’s large On this series.
“It’s Greater than merely having an IROC series of curlease champions and curlease stars. To Be succesful of add that elemalest And convey that automotive into The sector and have Kody Swanson, Bobby Santos, Doug Coby – You’ve acquired mans that Want to have photographs On The huge-time Which will get overshadowed Simply Since the series they’re working doesn’t get enough nationwide consideration for the automotive house proprietors at this diploma to see these mans first-hand.
“Doug Coby getting a one-race Truck journey (Coby will drive for GMS Racing Inside the NASCAR Tenting World Truck Collection race at Bristol) – Which will or not ever have occurred, but for constructive occurred As a Outcome of of SRX race and (GMS Racing President) Mike Beam being there and seeing his expertise. So I really feel that’s proof that This Is usually A great elemalest to the SRX Collection that we by no implys actually Thought-about On the time. We thought it was cool to curleasecase a youthful man’s expertise, but Did not know that It’d springboard somebody like that. So I really feel that’s a cool elemalest that We now have.”
Q: I am going to ask this about Luke Notably: If he have been to get a journey in NASCAR tomorrow, how do you assume he would stack up As in contrast with A pair of of The driving strains in Xfinity or Vans or ARCA proper now?
Tony: “I truthfully assume he would do terribly properly. I spent A lot of time the placeas we have been at Slinger with Luke, and like I said, I’ve converseed to him Tons As a Outcome of then. Luke Might be Definitely one of many most mature 17-yr previouss I’ve ever met in my life, Not to mention a 17-yr previous race automotive driver. His focus and his maturity would make him terribly good if he might get An alternative proper now.
“So I am hoping That somebody – And that i have even launched him As a lot as Ford in Ford conferences and said ‘Hey, We have To handle this baby, he has potential to make it’. So I really feel It is terribly important that All of us Think about him proper now. I really feel This Is usually A toddler that respectablely deserves a shot and hAs a Outcome of the psychological performance to do it. There is a lot Of youthfulsters That are 17 yrs previous That may drive race automotives, but Do not understand The biggest Method To place All of it collectively. And I really feel Luke’s A Sort of youthfulsters proper now that hAs a Outcome of the psychological performance To know The huge picture and The biggest method All of it works.”
Q: Virtually about mans with expertise: Last yr you stood up for Kyle Larson at a time the place not A lot Of people have been, and I do know you had very respectable curiosity in hiring him. That did not happen, he Finally ends up at Hendrick, and now He is The most properly appreciated factor in racing. Are there occasions the place You’re taking A look at what Kyle has been doing And the method dominant He is been and simply say “Rattling it”?
Tony: “I said thOn the day that I Got here across I Couldn’t get him. I said it that day – in all probability in phrases that I can not use proper now – However I said that Tons that day, and have said it Daily As a Outcome of then. That Shall be Definitely one of many largest regrets of my expert automotiveeer Isn’t getting That baby and having An alternative to race him in our automotives.
“He’s a once in a lifetime driver. I say He is a unicorn. He’s simply actually A Sort of males that – Who’s Aware of – I am constructive in our lifetime we’re gonna see Ancompletely diffelease particular person come aprolongedside that’s gonna be like Kyle, However It is in all probability gonna be A very Very prolonged time earlier than we see ancompletely diffelease particular person step up and ancompletely diffelease driver step up and do what Kyle has been In a place to do Inside the final yr and a half.”
Q: Rather than Kyle, you ended up promoting Chase Briscoe to drive the No. 14 automotive, and He is actually Appeared to return into his personal as a Cup driver over the summer time months. What do you assume the distinction has been for him and for SHR as A complete after the method 2021 started?
Tony: “Well I really feel the exhausting half is It is the identical problem for Chase as what we had with Cole (Custer) final yr. We’re taking a driver that was very revenueable Inside the Xfinity Collection, After which you undoubtedly transfer him As a lot As a Outcome of the Cup Collection the place He is getting zero apply and getting thrpersonal to the wolves every Sunday of trial by hearth so To converse. To Be succesful of do whOn they’ve carried out – what Cole did final yr in revenueable a race in his rookie season, and I really feel Indy two races in the past was actually An excellent Method to curleasecase what Chase’s expertise actually is. He’s an fantastic road course driver, but that’s not his againground – I imply, He is A mud-monitor baby from Indiana. So it reveals What Type of expertise he has as properly.
“When it came to making an try To Search out out the Larson piece, we have beenn’t going to let Chase Briscoe go – We had plans for him as properly. So it wasn’t that he acquired his alternative because we misplaced Kyle. He was going to be in a Cup automotive in our system Finally anymethod. However that acquired expedited by dropping Larson and acquired him that shot earlier.
“It’s simply Sort of been A type of seasons the place He is made Probably the most of what We have been In a place to give him for the yr. It is not a typical yr for SHR – This Is not The regular that we’re used to, It is not the efficiency that we’re used to. The irritating half for us as An group is We will not put our finger on precisely What’s wrong. However As quickly as we do, That is the primary An elemalest of The reply is decideing The drawback. So we’re all Eager about eventually figuring this out, but we’re irritated because we’re two-thirds of the method by way of the season and Have not been In a place to decide precisely whOn The drawback is. However we’re all working as exhausting as We will in making an try to decide The drawback.
“In the implytime, We Have acquiredten 4 drivers, 4 crew chiefs, a ton of engineers and a ton of staff at Stewart-Haas Racing That are stopping their guts out every week to work with what We now have and making an try To revenue from it, but On The identical time making an try To Search out out whOn The drawback is as properly.”
Q: I might assume that Aric revenueable at New Hampshire and Chase contending for the win at Indy took the sting out of whOn the yr’s been like a bit?
Tony: “Barely bit – I like these one-off circumstances like that, but I am An monupsychological fan of consistency. Getting these good runs like that, that’s An monupsychological morale booster for every of these drivers And every of these groups, However it doesn’t assist us Inside The huge picture of Figuring out whOn The drawback is and what to do To unravel it and remedy it. We’ll primarytain focused on that process, and It is a breath of current air for these two circumstances obviously, but We now Want to finally Work out whOn the state of affairs and drawback is so We will repair this and get again on monitor.”
Q: You’re promoting the continuation of the Mobil 1 Thousand …This is your tenth yr halfnered with Mobil – From an activation standpoint, how important has making the playoffs Discover your self to be for the sake of a group’s sponsors and what plans they lay out from a advertising standpoint every season?
Tony: “It’s large, obviously. Those final 10 weeks And by way of every half of the playoffs, these mans That are nonetheless in, They Appear to be a lot of The primary goal of the broadcasts of the race every week. So for our halfners, It is a very huge proponent of why They’re Inside The sport is to get that mannequin recognition, to get the expoconstructive thOn they get. And to get two of our automotives (Inside the playoffs), that’s Essential for us.
“Clearly We’d Want to have 4 automotives Inside there and Be succesful of do That rather extra. However to get two On this yr proper now, and hopefully God-prepared and We now have good luck On the demolition derby at Daytona, we’ll get Ancompletely diffelease in and we’ll Attempt and get three Of these automotives in. However we’re wanting forward to it.
“Clearly Daytona is an superior race to have as A final cutoff race. It’s thrilling for the followers, It’s terrifying for us as automotive house proprietors and drivers and groups understanding what can happen. However It is undoubtedly going to be thrilling this weekend, And that is An monupsychological proponent for Mobil 1 To have The power to not solely get that expoconstructive, However in addition curlease whOn their character is as a company too. To be in a state of affairs submit-COVID of With The power to take movement a lot To curlease again to race followers and to have this promovement — It doesn’t matter what group It’s, if It is a Mobil 1 group that wins, then the followers win. And that’s one factor that I am actually Joyful with our halfnership with Mobil 1 And the method they’re giving again.”
Stewart is promoting the Mobil 1 Thousand, which has raised its stakes for the NASCAR playoffs: Starting with the Southern 500 at Darlington, followers Might have The prospect to win hundreds of dollars if a driver who makes use of Mobil 1 takes the checkered flag in any playoff race. The prize totals for the Mobil 1 Thousand, which has already awarded $15,000, are being elevated for the playoffs.