Tony Stewart on NASCAR costs and dirt racing

Tony Stewart is ‘somewhat frustrated’ of hearing lower-tier teams complain about a lack of performance due to funding

The costs of NASCAR racing aren’t getting any cheaper for Tony Stewart and his four-car stable of premier series machines. It still costs millions of dollars to circle the NASCAR circuit.

Between 2012-2017, Farmers Insurance spent $67.28 million on 102 races with Kasey Kahne. Those numbers are a bit dated but they are the most accurate information available regarding the costs of NASCAR racing.

The Farmers Insurance numbers above come from a dated lawsuit involving Sports Marketing Consultants and Hendrick Motorsports. They wanted a commission fee for locating sponsorship on behalf of the team.

Related: NASCAR sponsorship costs

Today, costs are a major part of the discussion among the NASCAR industry. Everyone wants the costs of racing to come down but nobody has a clear answer of how to make that happen.

Recently, Roger Penske and Jack Roush expressed an interest in the development of common parts. They want a select number of parts to be developed by a third party and distributed to the teams.

This is apposed to the teams developing every nut, bolt and part on a race car. In theory, a company could develop the parts in bulk instead of teams making just a few for their operation, which should bring the costs down for everyone

Related: Roger Penske, Jack Roush talk cutting costs in NASCAR

For 2019, NASCAR is requiring teams to turn in wind tunnel tickets each time they make a trip to the wind tunnel. As of now, there’s no limit. But, NASCAR is gathering the data. The thinking is they will then use that data to set limits in the future.

Which of course would just send the wind tunnel funds elsewhere.

Tony Stewart in the Texas Motor Speedway media center
Tony Stewart in the Texas Motor Speedway media center

Tony Stewart on NASCAR costs

“I don’t think there’s been any Earth shattering revelations on that,” Tony Stewart refers to the costs of NASCAR racing during an interview with Claire B Lang via Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.

“Here’s the moral of the story… If teams raise money, they’re going to spend it to go faster. The only way you’re going to curve that is to find some sort of a spending cap.”

Previously, the Race Team Alliance and others have discussed the idea of a spending cap. There’s various forms of that idea out there.

That would basically take paperwork and communication from each team that reports expenses back to NASCAR.

“I know that’s been discussed and being discussed. How you execute that? That’s way over my head.”

“But, that’s been in motorsports since it’s inception. You look at F1 and see what top-tier to bottom-tier teams spend. It’s a much larger gap than what we have here in NASCAR.”

Ferrari spent $570 million on their F1 race team in 2016. $382.2 million of that was spent on research and development.

Ty Dillon and Clint Bowyer at Bristol Motor Speedway
BRISTOL, TN – APRIL 07: Ty Dillon, driver of the #13 GEICO Chevrolet, and Clint Bowyer, driver of the #14 Haas Automation Ford, lead the field during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 7, 2019 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Money isn’t the whole answer to speed

“At the same time, I’m starting to somewhat get frustrated, getting tired of hearing some of these lower-tier teams — You can give them the same budget and their not going to get the same results.”

“They can cry wolf quite a bit on this and say their not running well because they don’t have the funding to do so. Well, you can give them the same funding and their still not going to have the same results of what some of these top-tier teams have.”

Hendrick Motorsports is a perfect example of this very point. That’s a team with as big of a budget as any. Yet, for the past few years, they’ve struggled in comparison to their own standards. Only recently has that team began to find speed after a multi-year slump.

“We all would love to be able to control the costs. For that reason, we think that the lower-tier teams would close that gap. But, it’s not going to fix their problems. They’ve got to do their homework like everyone else does.”

“It’s from the ground up, from the guy that empties the trash cans and sweeps to the floors to the guy that’s writing the checks in the upper office. It’s putting the whole process together.”

“Some of these teams, that’s where they struggle. It’s not because they don’t know how to do it. It’s hard to get those right people.”

“These big organizations, the reason they stay successful is because they know how to organize the right people to do the right jobs.”

Stewart on his dirt racing career

Tony Stewart has run nearly 20 dirt races so far in 2019. He’s running close to 70% of the All-Star Circuit of Champions events.

“I’m having fun doing what I’m doing. My body hates me. My back’s killing me.”

“Sprint car racing’s pretty tough on you. But, I love it. I’m having a blast. Our performance this year, our teams, we’re all competing better.”

“Tony’s fine. Tony’s having fun racing. Why am I talking about myself in the third person? I don’t understand that, kinda feeling weird.”


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Tony Stewart | Tony Stewart Racing | Stewart-Haas Racing | NASCAR