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Tony Stewart Has Some Strong Opinions About NASCAR in Kenny Wallace Interview

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Cody Williams

Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
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North Carolina Moonshine and Motorsports Trail

Tony Stewart has never been one to shy away from what he’s feeling. The Indycar-turned-NASCAR-turned-NHRA star has been making the rounds on a few different podcasts this week. He stopped in Mooresville, North Carolina to chat with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and he also joined the Kenny Wallace Show on YouTube this week to discuss all things NASCAR.

In the clip of the interview provided below, Tony Stewart gives his thoughts about the current state of NASCAR. Let’s talk about it.

On Recent Penalties And Inspection

When discussing with Smoke, Herman voiced his displeasure, joking several times that he doesn’t want himself nor Stewart to get into trouble with NASCAR, about how teams will have their cars confiscated and taken back to the NASCAR R&D Center in Charlotte to be broken down until the powers that be found something wrong. Kenny stated that after pre-race inspection, there should be no further inspection and how things shake out should be the final finishing order.

Tony Stewart then chimed in to provide a little bit of insight about this procedure. Stewart said that during his day, there would be two NASCAR officials in the press box with two stopwatches in their hands to time drivers on pit road. He said that it was an understood fact in the NASCAR garage that a driver that had upset NASCAR in some way the week before would get pegged for speeding each time. This was NASCAR’s way of policing drivers who got under their skin.

Stewart went on to say that NASCAR can’t do that anymore nor can they throw random debris cautions to “bunch the filed back up” because of the growing world of sports betting. So, instead, if a team shows up NASCAR or they get under the sanctioning body’s skin, they cars get “randomly” choses to go back to the R&D center to be broken down and inspected until something wrong was found and the team would be hit with a penalty. Stewart also stated that something wrong can be found with each and every NASCAR Cup Series car that shows up on any given reason if NASCAR looks hard enough.

Is it right for NASCAR to penalize drivers for ticking them off? No, I don’t think so. In the interview, Tony Stewart stated that Brian France once said, “If you don’t like it here, you can beat it”. I think that’s the wrong attitude when you’re talking about drivers who have constructed criticism on how to make the sport better. That way of thinking is detrimental to the sport of NASCAR, in my opinion.

On Loving NASCAR Amid Criticism

About halfway through the video, the two briefly discuss their love of NASCAR. To jump back to the opening of the video, Tony Stewart said that he has a lot of very strong opinions about the current state of NASCAR but he has to keep his mouth shut. He said that voicing his true feelings will either hurt his drivers in their 2023 seasons or cost him a pretty sizeable chunk of money from his own pockets. He states that this is the thing he hates the most about NASCAR right now. But that does not mean that he doesn’t love the sport as well.

He touched on this very topic in his Dale Jr. Download appearance this week as well but in this clip, he gives a little more insight. He’s critical of NASCAR. He always has been. But that does not mean he’s looking to get out of the sport or that he just doesn’t care about it anymore. It just means that he loves it so much that he wants to improve it for everybody.

Kenny Wallace also adds to this, saying that there’s the belief that dirt racers hate NASCAR. Wallace said that during his reunion with John Robberts for the NASCAR Race Day show at Bristol Dirt, he spoke with seasoned dirt racer, Jonathan Davenport. He asked the racer point blank if he “hates” NASCAR. Davenport responded by telling Wallace that it was a dream come true and that dirt racers love NASCAR.

I really, really like this topic. Yes, I agree that just because you criticize something endlessly, it doesn’t mean you don’t care or that you “hate” it. Really, you’re showing just how much you love it because you want the sport to be better for everyone involved. As I mentioned before, the whole “if you don’t love it, leave it,” way of thinking is unhealthy.

On the NextGen Car

Later on in the discussion, Kenny Wallace asked about Tony Stewart about whether or not team owners went to NASCAR and asked for the NextGen car. To this, Tony Stewart didn’t stutter. The answer is “Yes”. The spending per team per year was getting out of hand, according to Stewart. Here he says that it was really created a gap between the top tier teams, the mid-pack teams, and the back of the pack teams as the upper teams were very well funded while the others were doing all they could do to just have a car present on race weekend. He said that this car was vital to the longevity of the sport. However, while he admits to asking for this new spec car, Stewart also says that he has a strong opinion about the car itself. He says that he wouldn’t have had a sports car manufacturer design a NASCAR stockcar, which is ultimately the route NASCAR took.

In regards to the NextGen car, I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, I understand the ownership’s side of the argument. They were spending tons of money to use one car for one race and then strip it down. The days of a chassis lasting for decades is long over. So, yes, I understand their point of view. And I also agree with Stewart that having a sports car manufacturer design the car was a mistake. When the car was first revealed, I said it was ugly. Today, at the end of April in 2023, I still think it’s ugly. Intermediate racing seems to have improved while short tracks (which I prefer by a lot) have suffered the last couple of years. That’s a detriment to the car in my mind and NASCAR needs to do something with the package (and consult drivers) to improve short track racing. The thing I hate the most about it, though, is that it took all of the craftsmanship out of building a racecar. Many now unemployed crewmen considered building a NASCAR stockcar an art form. Now it’s just not. They’ve stripped that away. It’s a shame. But I’m also not sure how sustainable that model was in the year 2022. So, maybe this was inevitable.

What do you think, Daily Downforce readers? Do you agree or disagree with Tony Stewart’s comments here? Let us know on our socials, Twitter and Instagram!

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Cody Williams

Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
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