NASCAR team owner Tony Stewart explains why he couldn’t sign Kyle Larson

Why didn’t Kyle Larson sign with Stewart-Haas Racing?

In April, Kyle Larson used a racial slur during an online race. He was attempting to reach his personal spotter on a private audio channel. Instead, the audio was sent over the public channel for thousands to hear.

The then 27-year-old was one of the hottest drivers in NASCAR. And he was in a contract year. Yet, with one word, Larson’s world was flipped upside down.

Within hours, he was suspended by both Chip Ganassi Racing and then NASCAR. The following day, sponsors began to drop him and Chip Ganassi Racing was forced to fire Larson.

Behind the scenes, Larson returned to his home state of California. He then listed both North Carolina homes for sale.

At the same time, hewas also on a quest to learn about racial inequality as he traveled the country and spoke to those who work remove systematic racism.

Eventually, the driver returned to the dirt tracks. He dominated in dirt sprint cars, dirt midgets, silver crown and dirt late models.

Related: Kyle Larson talks NASCAR, dirt racing and selling his house

Kyle Larson - The Dirt Track at Charlotte - World of Outlaws Late Model Series - Dirt Late Model Racing 6604
Kyle Larson – The Dirt Track at Charlotte – World of Outlaws Late Model Series – Dirt Late Model Racing 6604

Tony Stewart and Kyle Larson

On paper, Kyle Larson and Tony Stewart would be a dream paring. Both are drivers who are addicted to dirt track racing. Previously, Larson was limited on the number of dirt races he could run with Chip Ganassi Racing. That limit would likely be removed if he signed with SHR.

Months had gone by, Larson still wasn’t reinstated by NASCAR. Tony Stewart became vocal in encouraging NASCAR to lift the suspension.

Related: Tony Stewart encourages NASCAR to lift ban on Kyle Larson

Rumors began to circulate that Tony Stewart was interested in hiring Kyle Larson for 2021 completion in the NASCAR Cup Series. At the time, Stewart-Haas Racing had possible open seats in the No. 10 and the No. 14.

Years prior, Stewart had always expressed interest in hiring Larson. However, the driver said that he planned to remain loyal to Chip Ganassi as he was the first to give him a shot in the sport.

As the months passed, Aric Almirola renewed in the No. 10 with SHR. Chase Briscoe was promoted from Xfinity to take over for Clint Bowyer in the No. 14. The Stewart-Haas stable was full for 2021.

Soon after, it was announced that Kyle Larson will move to Hendrick Motorsports for 2021. The No. 88 car will be transformed into the No. 5, no sponsor has been announced.

Aric Almirola on the Daytona Road Course - NASCAR Cup Series 2
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – AUGUST 16: Aric Almirola, driver of the #10 Go Bowling Ford, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Go Bowling 235 at Daytona International Speedway on August 16, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

So, why didn’t Kyle Larson sign with Stewart-Haas Racing?

Instagram comment: “Shudda put larson in 14 car !! Lost out s&h racing.. Someone with no fear !! Who you got better ?? No one !! Dumbest..”

Tony Stewart responded: “Trust me, I tried. Learn all of the details before you bash me. I tried for the last 4 years. Ford wouldn’t approve it. I TRIED”

There’s the unfortunate answer. Stewart-Haas Racing has close ties to Ford Performance. Ford wouldn’t allow Stewart-Haas to bring Larson into their program.

Related: Kyle Larson details 2021 dirt racing plans amid new NASCAR contract

Related: Tony Stewart explains signing talks with Kyle Larson


Kyle Larson | Chase Briscoe – Stewart-Haas Racing – Hendrick Motorsports – Chip Ganassi Racing – NASCAR | Ford Performance