Tony Stewart isn’t interested in kids buying a NASCAR ride

Stewart-Haas Racing is breaking the mold of young drivers with a rich father getting signed into NASCAR

Tony Stewart, co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing has long stated that he’s not interested in young drivers. Now, he’s adding that a young driver with a large checkbook also gets a pass.

In recent years, we’ve seen a number of no-name drivers reach the NASCAR level. These drivers essentially come from nowhere.

Drivers are able to bring a sponsor and/or a checkbook and suddenly they have a ride in the sport.

The NASCAR business model is broken. Teams are funded mostly by sponsorship, instead of their performance on the track. Thus, we’ve entered an era where drivers can buy their way into the sport.

It’s reached a point where a NASCAR Cup Series champion can’t even drive in the NASCAR Truck Series, without bringing a sponsor with him. Joey Logano recently ran in the Truck Series, he wanted to run more races but he couldn’t due to a lack of sponsorship.

But, for the four-car team of Stewart-Haas Racing, those drivers are checked at the door and refused entry. On Wednesday, the team announced that 32-year-old Josh Berry will replace Kevin Harvick in the No. 4 car beginning in 2024.

Stewart-Haas Racing turned away checks to make that happen…

Josh Berry to replace Kevin Harvick in the No. 4 car

Tony Stewart comments

“I’m not interested in some kid’s father coming and buying their way into the Cup Series,” Tony Stewart stated via the team press conference.

“I have zero interest in that. We want guys that earn their way, that work hard and understand the values that it takes to be a top tier driver.”

“Not one that just got his high school diploma and now all the sudden he’s a Cup driver.”

“Josh has put in the time, the effort. And every time he’s gotten an opportunity, he’s made the most of it. That’s the traits that championship drivers are built out of.”

“Not the easy ticket to get there. Every time he’s made a change, he’s had to make the most of it.”

“We’re in this era where we’re seeing kids 12-14 years old, driving late models. Which I think is ludicrous. I don’t think there’s any reason for it.”

“There’s nothing they’re going to miss by waiting until they’re 16 or 18. Their bodies aren’t mature, their minds aren’t mature. I don’t understand the rush.”

Josh Berry put in the work

“I want somebody that’s had to go do hard time. Somebody who knows what it takes to go up and down the road. Mentally, is stable and knows what it takes to compete at this level.”

“Knows how to not just go fast in the car but put the race together. Know when it’s time to push and when it’s not time to push.”

“That is what’s made Kevin so good. He is, in my opinion, the smartest driver in the series right now. You just don’t see drivers that have that kind of savvy anymore.”

“Josh is one of those guys, that we do see that in. He knows how to plan for the entire race, not just the lap he’s on.”

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Who will sponsor Josh Berry?

Kevin Harvick - Circuit of the Americas (COTA) - Stewart-Haas Racing
Kevin Harvick – Circuit of the Americas (COTA) (Photo: Stewart-Haas Racing)

The No. 4 team is still seeking sponsors for 2024.

“At this point, we’re totally open. We’re having discussions with current sponsors and we have a lot of potential sponsors that are interested as well. Nothing to announce but a lot of conversations going on.”

Berry was already selected to drive the No. 4 before he filled in for Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman in the Cup Series earlier this year.

Stewart added, “We’re sitting in the back smiling. He’s getting free track time on somebody else’s dollar.”

Anheuser-Busch is currently of the primary sponsors for the No. 4 car. The company hasn’t announced which car they’ll sponsor in 2024 but they are tied to rumors with Trackhouse Racing and Ross Chastain.

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Josh Berry comments on his path to the NASCAR Cup Series
Josh Berry - NASCAR Driver
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 18: Josh Berry, driver of the #8 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Chevrolet, waves to fans during the parade lap prior to the NASCAR Xfinity Series Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. 300 at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Josh Berry was driving for JR Motorsports in the CARS Tour Late Model Stock division. In that series, he picked up 22 wins over just 56 races.

That performance turned into a full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series ride with JR Motorsports. He’s since collected 5 wins since driving full-time beginning in 2021.

Now, that opportunity has turned into a NASCAR Cup Series ride.

“Heading to the Cup Series, nobody really cares what your path was to get there,” Josh Berry stated.

“I’m ready for that challenge. I’m ready for the opportunity to make a name for myself in the Cup Series.”

He added, “I’m proud of how I got here. But, the work for 2024 starts today and it started before today as well.”

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Josh Berry | Kevin Harvick | Stewart-Haas Racing | NASCAR