Stewart: “Dirt tracks are gaining momentum. It’s pretty easy to figure out what’s going on. But, for some reason there’s an invisible shield here.”
In recent years, the crop of current NASCAR drivers have become younger. At the same time, the veterans are retiring earlier. Those two things are likely related.
Team owners have been picking younger drivers since Jeff Gordon, the California kid rolled into the scene in 1992 and set the NASCAR world on fire.
The urge for new, young talent requires an open seat in a field of only 40 drivers. As they come in, less seats are available for the veterans and the overall careers are getting much shorter.
Tony Stewart is co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing. He’s made several comments pointing to his lack of understanding for teams picking up young drivers.
He lives by his own words…
Stewart-Haas Racing: Kevin Harvick (43); Clint Bowyer (40); Aric Almirola (35); Daniel Suarez (27).
For comparisons sake…
Hendrick Motorsports: Jimmie Johnson (43); Alex Bowman (26); Chase Elliott (23); William Byron (21).
It’s across the board with all race teams and all forms of motorsports. Drivers who haven’t made it to the big time yet, tend to stay at 25, for several years. They lie about their age to make themselves more appealing to the professional team owners.
Age 25 appears to be the expiration date for a racing driver that hasn’t yet made it to the pro levels. But, Tony Stewart doesn’t get it.
Tony Stewart on young NASCAR drivers
“Their mom quite driving them to the race shop two years or a year ago. They haven’t lived real-world life yet,” Tony Stewart told Claire B Lang via Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
“It’s frustrating to me. How in the world do you get heroic about a 16-year-old kid that his mom just dropped him off at the shop because he doesn’t have his drivers licence yet.”
“Now, he’s able to run a national NASCAR series. How does that make NASCAR heroic? How does that attract new fans?”
What if you’re a 19 year old fan?
“18 year old fans came with their fathers or grandfathers to the races. NASCAR’s trying to do all this stuff to get new fans. But, they’re going after them in the wrong way.”
“You look at dirt tracks… Dirt tracks are gaining momentum. It’s pretty easy to figure out what’s going on. But, for some reason there’s an invisible shield here. It’s a whole different world over here.”
“There is a 25-year-old driver out there that’s won more races than the entire field of young drivers that haven’t been racing 6 or 8 years.”
“There’s a guy that’s earned his way. That slept in junky hotel rooms, that’s had to work on his car, that’s had to live real life. And these other kids haven’t even had to live real life and they’re NASCAR drivers.”
“I think the whole process of trying to find the next stars is a totally screwed up system. It’s not that the kids coming in don’t have talent. They have talent.”
“But, there are other guys that are getting overlooked daily who have truly paid their dues and deserve a shot to be here.”