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Following the aftermath of the Denny Hamlin-Kyle Larson debacle at Pocono Raceway, the precedence has now shifted towards driver etiquette and how the sport has evolved to be what it is today. While the veteran Joe Gibbs Racing driver’s late tangle made the headlines for all the wrong reasons, former NASCAR driver and legendary 3-time Cup Series champion, Tony Stewart believes that incidents like these aren’t just mere coincidence or just indecent behavior.

Instead, the Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner says that it has been a long and wrong process in the making, with drivers forced to be in such dire straits. With the veteran champion coming out boldly against the organization, NASCAR’s new passive aggressor, Denny Hamlin agreed to cent percent to what the “Smoke” had to say.

Tony “Smoke” Stewart comes out swinging as he downplays NASCAR’s evolution

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Now, ‘Smoke’ is not the kind of person to sugarcoat or beat around the bush in any situation. Instead, the 3-time champ over the years has been outlandishly outspoken against the organization, citing their blunders and voicing his opinions publically. And Stewart, being the same old guy, continues on the same road, even now, even after his retirement in 2016.

And now, with all the smoke coming from the past race at Pocono where the JGR driver, Hamlin, stole a late win from his friend, Kyle Larson, Tony Stewart has come out to express his thoughts. While the entire community blamed the #11 driver, denouncing his win at The Tricky Triangle, Stewart saw through, identifying the main issue that was causing all the trouble.

With NASCAR constantly testing and adopting newer strategies to make the races more engaging and entertaining for its viewers, respect and driver etiquette have now taken a back seat and Stewart believes this was forced upon the drivers and not them straying out, completely disregarding sportsmanship.

He said, “It’s not that the drivers have just said, we just dont want to do it that way anymore that’s the hand that they’re forced to race under that so I think in the scenario we’re seeing, and talking about what drivers used and how they’re racing each other if you’re gonna win you are gonna be forced into those situations because you dont have a car that’s two tenth or three tenth batter than somebody on the given day.” 

We have shot ourselves in our foot as an industry of complaining about races just being good because somebody won by 3 or 4 or 5 seconds, 3 or 4 or 5 lead at the end of the race, we shot ourselves in the foot because we sat there and preached that things were bad so NASCAR has done the best they can do to tighten the field up as much as they can but what makes it bad?”

“It makes it extremely hard to pass and overtake when everybody’s running the same speed so with that it puts drivers in a more dire situation but when they go to make the move it’s a much larger move and when it goes wrong it goes very wrong now,” said the 52-year-old veteran exposing the sport’s brutal reality and how it has changed over the years.

READ MORE: “He Killed a Guy”- Fans Dig Old Skeletons in Tony Stewart’s Closet After Pat McAfee & Pro Bowl Winner Challenge Smoke

Much like Denny Hamlin, Stewart also mentioned the tire issue bearing its weight on drivers

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Everything is bound by time, and that is the reality. And over the years, Stock Car Racing too has changed. In fact, quite a bit. From being confined to the southern part of the country, NASCAR has now spread its wings and found new pastures, amassing more viewers, mostly younger fans.

Unlike its older fans who stuck to the traditional values of the sport, these young fans now contribute to over 60% of the sports viewership and that has prompted the organization to make necessary changes so that it can cater to its growing fanbase. And some of these changes have largely affected drivers and that’s where Stewart is pointing his fingers to.

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You know where I started back in 99 in the Cup series just about every track you went to you could burn the tires off the car, you absolutely wear the tires down, you could wear the car around and if you didn’t budge it, you didn’t plan and take care of your tires, you’d be half a lap or lap down in one spin,” said the SHR co-owner. 

Reflecting on this aspect, Stewart and Hamlin do share a common opinion. “Nowadays we’re in the era where the tires are so good and don’t fall off and the performance doesn’t fall off, so you can run a 100% every lap and not hurt your racecar and that along helps us,  the rules packages, that NASCAR, now everybody’s got the same stuff and everybody’s super close so where before you had comers and goers.”

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WATCH THIS STORY: NASCAR veteran Kevin Harvick defends Denny Hamlin in Pocono Raceway controversy 

With the equipment and its components becoming indestructible, so to speak, with the introduction of Next-Gen cars, drivers are now prompted to pull off such anti-climatic moves to win, rather than relying solely on race craft.