NASCAR’s “Fine Toothcomb” Scrutiny Making Tolerant NHRA “More Enjoyable” For Distant Tony Stewart

Published 02/07/2024, 8:52 AM EST

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Starting this year, Tony Stewart will race full-time in the NHRA, replacing his wife Leah Pruett. The Stewart-Haas Racing owner’s comeback to motorsports is a much-awaited affair, and it seems like the 3-time Cup Series champion is preferring NHRA over NASCAR at the moment. A lot of it has to do with the intense scrutiny cars are under in the stock car racing competition, which has irritated a lot of team owners of late.

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Stewart revealed this in a recent episode of Unfiltered Racing Talk where he also expressed his disappointment toward engine manufacturers in NASCAR. Teams have to purchase the car parts from the organizing body itself so that the cars remain equal for everyone. However, when it comes to helping out the teams in this respect, the 3-time Cup Series champion said that the manufacturers have fallen woefully short.

Tony Stewart reveals how NHRA is better than NASCAR at the moment

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Last year, Stewart-Haas Racing was one of the teams that felt the full wrath of NASCAR’s intense car inspection. The driver in question was the retiring Kevin Harvick. It took place in the playoff race at the Talladega Superspeedway where the Closer finished P2. In a season that was full of misery for the team, that kind of result was incredible.

However, NASCAR took it away from the team as they penalized SHR for having unsecured windshield fasteners. It was a breach of NASCAR Rule Book numbers 14.5.6.2.F Windshield and 14.1.E&P Overall Assembled Vehicle Rules. Harvick lost all points earned in the race and was moved down to P38.

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In NHRA, this kind of scrutiny is a lot less, and as per Tony Stewart, that makes it a lot more enjoyable to compete in. Sure, there are engine rules in place, but the intensity with which the inspection takes place in NASCAR makes it a lot more strenuous for everyone involved with the team.

“It’s not near as much scrutiny that IndyCar or NASCAR have to go through. They go through those cars with a fine toothcomb. It’s a lot more enjoyable in NHRA because they’ve got rules in place, but it’s not like every time you go through there you have to disassemble half of your race car to go through tech,” he said.

The 3-time Cup Series champion also slammed the manufacturers who provide the car parts in the competition. In a bid to make equal cars, NASCAR has made things a lot more difficult for owners who don’t even get much help.

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Stewart-Haas Racing boss slams NASCAR’s manufacturers over attitude

Sometimes, a lot of the parts that are purchased by the teams by NASCAR’s manufacturers are not the right size. The tolerances of those parts are different. So when the teams ask for help from said manufacturers, Stewart said that their only response has been to buy a new part and hope that it fits the second time. Clearly, there are some things that NASCAR needs to get in order in this regard.

“The hard part is some of the parts you buy just don’t even fit and don’t even fit the tolerances. The tolerances and standard quality control that we have as teams in NASCAR are way tighter than the manufacturers that are making the body panels and the undertrays and the exhaust boxes, and all that stuff. Their tolerances are way wider than what ours are so they’ve got some catching up, but we don’t really get much help on that standpoint from the manufacturers. Their response is, ‘Well, just buy another part and hopefully that one will fit’,” Stewart added.

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Tony Stewart is probably not the only person who has faced these issues. There have been instances in the past of team owners and mechanics complaining about the parts they have had to buy from the official manufacturer not being up to the mark, or of the right measurement. It really is no wonder that Smoke finds NHRA more enjoyable at the moment.

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Written by:

Nilavro Ghosh

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Nilavro Ghosh is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports, where he is known for his creative yet easy-to-read writing style. Before taking up his role as a sports journalist at ES, Nilavro has written for some of the top publishing houses, like The Telegraph. While most journalists stop at covering live events and taking the news to the readers, Nilavro goes the extra mile to give fans a platform for them to express their thoughts through his 'race reaction' pieces.
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Edited by:

Ariva Debnath

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