Tony Stewart

Social media salutes NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2020

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Social media quickly rose to congratulate the five men named Wednesday to the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2020: Tony Stewart, Buddy Baker, Joe Gibbs, Bobby Labonte and Waddell Wilson.

Here are some of the more noteworthy posts from Twitter:

 

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Kyle Larson needs ‘timing’ to be right for Indy 500 attempt

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It’s not a stretch to say that when he thinks of the Indianapolis 500, Kyle Larson keeps looking at his watch.

“I think someday I’ll end up doing it, I just want to make sure the timing is right,” Larson said Wednesday on Happy Hours on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Larson would welcome the chance to follow Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Kurt Busch, who finished sixth in the 2014 Indy 500, in doing double-duty at both Indianapolis and in NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 later the same day. But he admits there’s a caveat.

“I would love to run (the 500),” Larson said. “The thing is the way we are (running) in Cup, I’m on the borderline of making the playoffs right now.

“And for me to go and run the Indy 500, which is something totally different than what I’ve ever grown up racing, I feel like I would have to dedicate so much of my time to learning how to be a good IndyCar driver. I don’t want to go there and just say I started in the field. I want to go there and do what Kurt (Busch) did, if not better.”

Larson admits to some other hesitation as well, including this story from 2017 where he said he was worried about some of the heavy crashes at Indy.

“I think that would take a lot away from my Cup stuff,” he said. “I know I race sprint cars and stuff and people might say that takes away from it but that’s something I’m comfortable with and I feel like that makes me a better driver in NASCAR.

“I don’t know if I would be hurting myself if I went and ran Indy. If I was able to get a win in the first  … couple races of the Cup season, then I think I could go to Chip and be like, ‘Alright, I’m locked in the playoffs. Let’s go do it and give it a good effort, too.’

“It’s the biggest race in the world. I would love to a part of it, but I also want to be able to do good at it and also feel like I’m not taking anything away from my day job.”

Larson might be tempted to drive an IndyCar first at a place like Pocono Raceway and see if he could be competitive. Tony Stewart gave him some advice about that.

“I’ve heard Tony talk about it, running like Pocono or something the year before,” Larson said. “That would be a good deal I think.

“You look at their restarts, their restart procedures are way different. The pit stops are way different. Just everything is so different. You’ve got all sorts of knobs on your steering wheel. Different boosts and weight jacker settings that you do throughout a lap. There’s so much that I would have to learn.”

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NASCAR Hall of Fame fan vote underway

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Fan voting for the 2020 NASCAR Hall of Fame class has begun.

Fans can vote online and the five nominees receiving the highest percentage of votes will comprise the Fan Vote ballot.

The fan vote ends on May 20 at 11:59 a.m. ET. The class will be formally voted on and announced at the Hall of Fame on May 22.

Here are the 20 nominees for the 2020 class:

Sam Ard, NASCAR Xfinity Series pioneer and two-time champion

Buddy Baker, won 19 times in the NASCAR Cup Series, including the Daytona 500 and Southern 500

Neil Bonnett, won 18 times in the NASCAR Cup Series, including consecutive Coca-Cola 600 victories

Red Farmer, three-time Late Model Sportsman champion; 1956 Modified champion

Ray Fox, legendary engine builder, crew chief and car owner

Harry Gant, winner of 18 NASCAR Cup Series races, including two Southern 500 victories

Joe Gibbs, combined for nine car owner championships in Cup and XFINITY series

John Holman, won two NASCAR Cup Series championships as co-owner of Holman-Moody Racing

Harry Hyde, 1970 NASCAR Cup Series championship crew chief

Bobby Labonte, won a championship in both the Cup Series and XFINITY Series

Hershel McGriff, 1986 NASCAR west series champion

Ralph Moody, won two NASCAR Cup Series championships as co-owner of Holman-Moody Racing

Marvin Panch, won 17 times in the NASCAR Cup Series, including the 1961 Daytona 500

Jim Paschal, 23 of his 25 NASCAR Cup Series wins came on short tracks

Larry Phillips, first five-time NASCAR weekly series national champion

Ricky Rudd, won 23 times in NASCAR Cup Series, including the 1997 Brickyard 400

Mike Stefanik, winner of record-tying nine NASCAR championships

Tony Stewart, three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, two-time Brickyard 400 winner

Red Vogt, the first master mechanic of NASCAR, and a founding member

Waddell Wilson, won three NASCAR Cup Series championships as an engine builder

Click here to vote on the Hall of Fame class.

Sage Advice: What Tony Stewart told Kurt Busch at Phoenix

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Tony Stewart has seen the picture taken of him and Kurt Busch near the end of Sunday’s Cup race at ISM Raceway and wants to assure you it’s not what it looks like.

The picture shows the Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner and Busch talking closely on the No. 41 team’s pit wall shortly after Busch wrecked in the final playoff elimination race.

“It looks like he’s sobbing on my shoulder and I’m consoling him and that’s not what it was,” Stewart said Monday on Kevin Harvick‘s “Happy Hours” show on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

“It was a boss and his driver, and more so two friends, that are having a conversation saying, ‘Don’t let that one mistake and that one crash overshadow what you did today as a race car driver and what you’ve done all year,” Stewart said.

Busch, the 2004 champion, entered the elimination race three points behind Harvick for the final transfer spot to the Championship 4.

Busch led 52 laps before he was held a lap by NASCAR for passing the pace car as he entered the pits on Lap 136.

After he returned to the lead lap, Busch stayed out of the pits during a late caution.

When the race restarted with 44 laps to go, Busch was racing Denny Hamlin for the lead in Turn 2 when Hamlin got loose and pinned him against the wall, which caused a chain reaction that involved Chase Elliott. Busch finished 32nd.

“Those restarts were insane yesterday,” Stewart said. “Kurt couldn’t do anything about that. It was more just having the conversation with Kurt, ‘Don’t beat yourself up, don’t go to the media and blast NASCAR because you did make a mistake, it was your fault, not NASCAR’s fault.’

“‘You did everything you could do’ … he absolutely drove his ass off. Ran a great race, battled adversity after his mistake coming on pit road. Absolutely did everything perfect from that moment on. That’s what I wanted him to understand.”

Busch, who enters the season finale at Miami without having announced where he’ll race in 2019, praised Stewart, who he has competed for since 2014.

“He was just helping me out as a driver, owner,” Busch said. “That’s what Tony Stewart does. He’s a good individual that knows how to pat somebody on the back and create clarity from the outside on what went on because I only see what happens from the inside of the car.”

Tony Stewart on hotheads, differing driver etiquette and a difficult NASCAR meeting

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In a revealing interview with Kyle Petty, Tony Stewart discusses how his perspectives have changed as his roles in racing have grown.

“I’ve been at Eldora (Speedway) driving in my own car, in my own series that night at my own racetrack,” he said in the first episode of the new “Coffee With Kyle” series that will appear on the NBC Sports YouTube channel. “You get mad at somebody, where do you go? You just literally go to the mirror and look at each other.

“We’ve got one of those triple mirrors in our hauler in a small restroom. So I can look there and see three people, and it’s like that’s the best you can do is sit there and argue the point to yourself. I think that’s what helped me be a better (team) owner, track owner, be a better series owner. Because if you as a driver come up to me after a race and have a point you’re trying to make, I can understand it because I’m a driver, too.”

During the interview, the three-time Cup champion also riffs on:

–How a driver’s desire to retaliate quickly fades;

–His perspective on being called a “hothead”

–Why the new generation of NASCAR drivers have a different view on etiquette than the one he was taught by many veterans;

–And a disconcerting meeting he had with NASCAR several years ago that he left feeling “like we’re in bad shape.”

Watch the interview above or via YouTube here. The second part of the interview will be available Tuesday.