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Tony Stewart: ‘Absurd’ kids can race full-size car when they can’t get a driver’s license


during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 13, 2017 in Talladega, Alabama.

Josh Hedges

Former Cup champion Tony Stewart questions why kids too young to get a driver’s license can race full-size race cars.

Stewart, who is presenting the Vankor Texas Sprint Car Nationals at the dirt track next to Texas Motor Speedway this weekend, expressed his opinion Friday when asked about the success this season of veteran drivers in NASCAR.

“The stats prove that you don’t have to be a teenager to win races,’’ said Stewart, whose team has had Cup wins from 42-year-old Kevin Harvick (three victories) and 38-year-old Clint Bowyer (one victory).

“I’m still one of those guys that I think it’s absurd for anybody that is under the age of 16 to be driving a full-size race car when society doesn’t even trust you to drive home from the grocery store two blocks away at 30 mph.

“I personally know drivers that I feel like have the talent and deserve to have the opportunity. There’s other guys that I know in open-wheel racing that I know deserve the opportunity, but because they’re not a teenager, they’ll never get an opportunity and never get the shot. We’re on some silly craze that you’ve got to be a teenager.’’

Stewart’s comments come a week after an NBC Sports story examining how young some drivers were starting in Late Models. Last month, 13-year-old Jake Garcia became the youngest driver to race at historic Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville.

Timmy Tyrrell, known as Mini Tyrrell, was 9 years old when he made his Late Model debut in 2014 at Shenandoah (Virginia) Speedway. He has won the track’s Late Model title the past two seasons.

Kyle Busch recently said on the issue of how young is too young to race in Late Models:

“I don’t think it’s necessarily an age thing as much as it’s an experience thing. I look at go-karts, how did that particular individual do in go-karts and Bandoleros or Legend cars – what has his history been in vehicles? Has he won races? Has he been good? Has it been worth him moving up each and every time that he gets to a new vehicle?

“I don’t think it’s smart to just start at 10 or start at 13 in a Late Model, that absolutely should not be possible.’’

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