Say what you want about Tony Stewart, but the former NASCAR driver calls it like he sees it.
Stewart-Haas Racing on Wednesday officially revealed Aric Almirola as Danica Patrick’s replacement in the No. 10 Ford for the 2018 season. And Stewart, a co-owner of SHR, predictably had a lot to say during the press conference.
Perhaps the most interesting moment, however, came when Stewart was asked why he went with Almirola, a 33-year-old, over some young, up-and-coming driver. Here’s Stewart’s response, per Autoweek’s Matt Weaver:
Call us crazy, but this certainly seems like a shot at Hendrick Motorsports.
In 2018, HMS’ Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team will include 19-year-old William Byron and 24-year-old Alex Bowman. While both drivers undeniably are talented, the case can be made that neither have earned full-time rides on one of NASCAR’s top-tier teams.
In 31 races on the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2017, Byron has three wins and ten top-fives. Those are good numbers, but this is his first season in Xfinity. Byron has seven wins in 24 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races and four wins in 16 races on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series.
Bowman, on the other hand, has no wins in 81 Cup races, one win in 51 Xfinity races and no wins in 16 combined truck and K&N races.
Opponents of Stewart’s point of view likely will be quick to point out that Almirola has just one win in 242 Cup races. But the three-time Cup champion appears to be concerned more about drivers paying their dues and less about them dominating their competition.
Of course, this isn’t the first time Stewart has taken shots at young drives who “haven’t had to struggle.”
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images