Tony Stewart may be in his final year as a NASCAR driver, but the three-time champion proved again he isn’t going quietly.
He said he’s disappointed NASCAR chairman Brian France doesn’t come to many races so he can see first-hand what the sport needs.
“I want to see Brian France at the track more,” Stewart said last Thursday on SiriusXM Radio’s NASCAR channel. “I want to see him walking through the garage more. I want to see him being more active than just showing up and patting the sponsors on the back and going up in the suite. I want to see him down there in the trenches with everybody and understanding what’s truly going on. I think that’s where he needs to be for a while.”
Stewart already has been fined $50,000 this year for criticizing NASCAR for not requiring that all five lug nuts be installed properly. But days after those comments, NASCAR outlawed the practice of not tightening all five lug nuts.
Unlike his grandfather, NASCAR founder Bill France, and his father, Bill France Jr., Brian France said he prefers to delegate authority to others instead of being a fixture on the circuit.
Brian France also has declined invitations to attend driver council meetings.
“I know Brian France cares,” Stewart said. “But I think there’s a lot of things that get lost in translation between a driver going to talk to somebody in the [NASCAR office] trailer to the time it gets to him. Who knows what it sounds like by the time it gets up there — or if it even gets up there? He doesn’t have to say anything. We just want to know that he’s hearing what we’re saying.”
Visser faces financial hurdle in buying charter for new second team
Car owner Barney Visser made public Sunday what everyone has expected for weeks, announcing Erik Jones would become Martin Truex Jr.’s teammate next year at Furniture Row Racing.
Jones, the defending Camping World Truck Series champion, has been a high priority for Toyota Racing Development for the past two years. Now that Furniture Row essentially is an extension of Joe Gibbs Racing, it will be able to keep the 20-year-old in its camp.
But it won’t be cheap.
As a new team, Jones won’t have the benefits of being part of the 36-team charter system that guarantees select teams a starting spot for each race and a larger share of the purse.
Visser said some of the smaller teams are willing to sell their charters. While the exact cost hasn’t been revealed, each franchise is worth millions.
“We’ve been looking at it some,” Visser said. “We’re not exactly sure where we’re going to be on that. We are going to get a charter, but we’re not sure who we’re going to get it from yet.”
Jones, who will drive the No. 77 Toyota with primary sponsorship from 5-hour ENERGY, won the truck title a year ago for Kyle Busch Motorsports and he currently has six poles and three victories in the Xfinity Series.
His rise through the NASCAR ranks has been meteoric.
“Well, I don’t know if at any point in your career if you’re totally ready to make that move,” Jones said. “Like I said, I felt like last year I learned a lot in the few starts I made. At the end of the day I’m as ready as I can be. At some point you got to make that jump. You’re going to sink or swim. Like I said, I think I’m in the best situation to hopefully swim and be successful at it.”
NASCAR to address overzealous victory celebrations
Two days after Denny Hamlin tore up his transmission in a wild post-race celebration at Watkins Glen International, NASCAR said Tuesday it plans to create rules to keep winners from damaging their cars.
Steve O’Donnell, a senior vice president and chief racing development officer, told SiriusXM Radio’s NASCAR, changes were coming in response to long burnouts and donuts that create damage to the winning car.
When a tire blows, it often rips parts of the fender off and makes it more difficult for officials to determine if the car could pass post-race inspection.
Kurt Busch extends record for running every lap
By completing all 90 laps Sunday at Watkins Glen International, Kurt Busch now has completed all 5,901 laps in the first 22 races.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. had the record for finishing on the lead lap in the first 20 races of the 2012 season.
Dating back to last season, Busch has completed every lap in his last 25 starts. Since 1993, only Carl Edwards (28 races) has put together a longer streak of finishing on the lead lap.
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