Tony Stewart has watched his Stewart-Haas Racing team come out of the Cup Series gates fast in 2022, including Chase Briscoe’s win at Phoenix this past weekend. It’s easy to predict this season will be exponentially better than last year when the team struggled to a single win, and it didn’t come from Kevin Harvick.
This week Stewart appeared on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio and talked about the team’s early-season success and what’s changed within the organization. The three-time Cup champion also didn’t hold back in addressing fans of the team who got personal and were critical of last year’s performance for all the wrong reasons.
Stewart-Haas Racing off to great start in 2022
Tony Stewart couldn’t be more pleased with the start of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season for Stewart-Haas Racing. And what’s most impressive, it hasn’t been limited to one race or one driver.
Chase Briscoe’s first Cup Series win at Phoenix last weekend was just one of numerous early-season highlights for an organization that only had a handful of highlights all of last year.
In addition to Briscoe, Aric Almirola has started his retirement tour in style, earning three top-10 finishes in the season’s first four races. He had a total of five in all of 2021.
And Kevin Harvick is doing Kevin Harvick things. After a 30th at Daytona, he’s reeled off a pair of top 10s and a 12th place at Las Vegas.
Tony Stewart calls out fans for getting personal and questioning him in 2021
The Stewart-Haas Racing team obviously did their homework with the Next Gen car, and it’s paying off early. Tony Stewart knows it’s a long way from where they were a year ago. He said as much during an appearance this week on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio when he talked about the team’s performance early in 2022, how it’s dramatically different from 2021, and how he didn’t appreciate fans getting personal and questioning him last year for all the wrong reasons.
“From my standpoint, I’ve got to be a cheerleader and remind these guys that they can do it, that they have the talent, that we have the right group of people, and keep them motivated. Don’t let them get down,” Stewart said.
“I think on the personal side of that for me, with those wins on Sunday (Briscoe’s Cup and first NHRA win as a team owner), I took a lot of grief. I had life changes in the last two years. Meeting Leah, getting engaged, getting married, starting a new team with her, and people thought that I was taking the focus away from the Cup program. Sunday was proof that that was not the case.
“I have good people around me. I have great resources with Ford. We have a great OEM on the NHRA side that supports us on the drag race side and we have people in place to help me with all of this. I don’t have be a one-man band and I’m not the one that calls all the shots all the time. So people thinking that the car’s are running bad, that I’m not doing my part, is BS. And it showed that this week.”
Stewart said something similar in 2021 during struggles
Tony Stewart is always going to tell it like it is. He did that last year in the midst of the team’s struggles.
“It’s not been a season that we’re proud of by any means,” Stewart said in August. “We definitely have a problem in our organization, and it’s not with people. But there’s something that we’re missing on that’s cost us the entire season up to this point and we can’t find it, but we know there’s something fundamentally wrong. So it’s frustrating because we’re all sitting there scratching our heads trying to figure out what is wrong and what’s going on.”
However, like he did this week on SiriusXM, Stewart also told the station last year that it wasn’t because of complacency from him or the team.
“To hear people say that we’re not working hard enough is the polar opposite of the truth,” Stewart said. “I’ve never seen our group fight harder than what they are right now to try to find solutions to the problems and try to figure out how to get us out of the deficit that we’re in. But it is not for a lack of effort on anybody’s part and I can promise you on my part.”
Tony Stewart has been successful as a driver and an owner. His track record confirms that, and he’s done it by surrounding himself with people who are good at what they do. Those fans who suggest that when SHR struggles it’s because of a general lack of effort couldn’t be further from the truth. And Stewart will gladly be the first one to point it out.