Tony Stewart previously attempted to sign Kyle Larson for 2021
Last year, Tony Stewart expressed interest in signing Kyle Larson to Stewart-Haas Racing. This came after years of attempting to court the driver to their operation.
With Larson out of his ride with Chip Ganassi Racing, Larson returned to the dirt tracks. He proceeded to dominate, with a win percentage over 50%.
Toward the end of the year, NASCAR announced that Larson would be able to return to the sport in 2022. The hottest driver in racing was essentially a free agent.
Despite Stewart’s attempts, the Ford Performance camp wouldn’t allow Stewart to hire him. Larson landed at Hendrick Motorsports instead.
Since, Stewart has stated that missing out on Larson was the biggest regret of his racing career.
Now, Larson has claimed 10 race wins in 2021 alone. He won at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday, claiming the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series title, book-ending a complete rebound.
Tony Stewart tweeted, “Congratulations to the best race car driver I’ve ever seen.”
Kyle Larson responds to comment from Tony Stewart
In the media center, Larson was told about the comments.
He responded saying, “Today has been really cool. To now hear you say that, and I did an interview with NBC before the race started, Mario Andretti, to hear him talk about his thoughts on me.”
“And now Tony Stewart, probably the one driver if I had to pick, if I really had a true racing hero, I would say it’s Tony Stewart, who I’ve always believed to be the best race car driver ever.”
“That means a lot to me. Yeah, it’s just — I try to model my racing and my schedule off what I feel like Tony Stewart would do, so that makes me feel really good.”
Tying Stewart’s record
Larson won 5 playoff races in a single season. The last driver to do that was Tony Stewart. Larson now sits tied with Stewart on the record.
“Yeah, I mean, I don’t know what to think about it really. Yeah, it’s just wild,” Larson added.
“Like I didn’t know that we would have a season like this. I thought — with Chase winning last year, I knew we would be strong, but I didn’t think that we would ever win double-digit races in the Cup Series. This isn’t anything that I thought I would ever do in the Cup Series, double-digit wins and winning the championship, winning half the playoff races.”
“I thought when Tony Stewart won half of the playoff races in the year that he won the championship, I was like, that’ll never be done again.”
“For me to match him on that, the laps led, the wins, the top 5s and stuff, and all the wins outside of Cup racing, I never thought racing for Hendrick Motorsports that I would get to race a single dirt race in a year, let alone as many as I have this year. It’s definitely an unbelievable season on so many different levels.”