Larson Ponders Payback From Stewart
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on June 20, 2014 | 10:36 A.M. EST
Larson is not sure what to expect from Tony Stewart at Sonoma Raceway after drawing "Smoke's" ire last weekend in Michigan. (Photo: Getty Images)
SONOMA, Calif. - As soon as Kyle Larson made the move, he knew there was going to be trouble with Tony Stewart.
Now, Larson isn’t sure what will happen next as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series runs this weekend at Sonoma Raceway, a tight track where contact is inevitable.
Stewart says that if Larson doesn’t learn his lesson, he soon will.
During a restart last weekend at Michigan International Speedway, Larson moved up and Stewart hit the back of Larson’s car, damaging Stewart’s car and triggering his ire.
“I was mirror-driving, and I saw him go to the right, so I went to the right and felt him hit me,’’ Larson said. “I was like, “Oh, Tony is going to be (upset). I let him by and drove around him a couple of corners later.
“The caution came out, and I knew what was going to happen. I knew he was going to pull up next to me and show me he wasn’t happy.’’
Larson said Stewart gave him a one-finger salute.
“I don’t feel like I’ve done anything dirty, so I’m not going to do anything to make the situation worse,’’ Larson said. “I hope he doesn’t.’’
A week later, Stewart still isn’t pleased with Larson.
“He’ll learn it’s not a good idea,’’ Stewart said after Friday’s first practice session at Sonoma Raceway. “If he didn’t learn it last week, he’ll learn it the next couple of weeks.
“We had a really good car. On a restart, he swerves over to block us and puts a big hole in the nose that we’ve got to come in and fix. By the time we get it fixed we’re buried so far back at the end of the race we couldn’t do anything.
“He will learn. Just like we all learned when we were rookies one way or the other. He’ll either slow down enough to think about what he’s doing or he’ll be forced into a situation where he’ll have time to think about it and there will still be cars on the race track.’’
Larson, who came up from the sprint car ranks, was asked if he ever made Stewart angry in those cars.
“I never raced him a whole lot,’’ Larson said. “In sprint car racing, blocking is a little more normal. I don’t know if he gets as angry in that as he gets in stock cars when it comes to blocking. A guy like Tony Stewart probably respects you more if you don’t back down. I’m sure we’ll be around each other (this weekend) and we’ll see what happens.
Brian Vickers, who has had a couple of notable incidents with Stewart at Sonoma, offered Larson some advice.
“There’s no right or wrong answer to your problem,’’ Vickers told Larson, “but there are consequences.’’