CONCORD, N.C. – Shane Stewart recently got new life breathed into his ongoing quest for a World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series championship, after it was announced last week he’ll move from Kyle Larson Racing to CJB Motorsports for the 2019 season.
Stewart, a 33-time Outlaw feature winner from Bixby, Okla., has spent the last four season on the road with Larson and company. He’s also a two-time Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series champion.
The 42-year-old spoke to SPEED SPORT in a wide-ranging interview about the announcement, what it means for his future in racing and how much longer fans can expect to see him on the road.
Q: Considering the news that broke last week, it’s a fair guess that the last week has been a bit of a whirlwind. What have the days since the announcement of your new ride been like?
Stewart: It’s been pretty crazy. I’ve gotten a lot of text messages, phone calls and congratulations from a lot of different people, but it’s been all good. I’ve just been trying to soak everything in.
Q: As a driver, how reassuring is it that even as you’re leaving one situation, there’s other teams and other owners out there who still believe you belong on the World of Outlaws tour?
Stewart: It’s really important and really refreshing. I’m glad there’s still people out there that still see what I can do behind the wheel; that’s encouraging. I still feel like I can do well on the Outlaw tour and I can’t thank Chad and Jenn Clemens and Barry Jackson enough for the opportunity to drive for CJB Motorsports.
I’m looking forward to working with Barry. I’ve known him for a long time and known that his race cars have been fast for many years. I’ve always wanted to team up with him, but it just hasn’t worked out until now. I’m super excited about the chance to do that now, though.
Q: The announcements of you leaving Kyle Larson Racing and joining CJB Motorsports came pretty close together, but when did the discussion of you driving for CJB actually start?
Stewart: This has been a longer process than people probably think it has been. They approached me a while back … and Barry hinted around that they were wanting to go in a different direction, and the timing was really good for me because I had just been told that I was losing my ride with Kyle and was in a little bit of limbo. I wasn’t too stressed out about it at the time, because I figured I would land on my feet somewhere, and thankfully Barry and CJB and myself were able to put a deal together after that.
Q: What makes you excited about working with CJB Motorsports?
Stewart: A good crew chief. I’ve been fortunate to work with some good ones in my time, and those guys are getting harder and harder to find. It’s getting harder to get good guys to go out on the road and do the full World of Outlaws tour, because the grind of it is really tough for a lot of people. Barry’s resume speaks for itself, though.
Not very many guys out there are like Barry, because he can build the cars, he knows how they work, he knows about the engine side of things … he’s one of those guys with a diverse knowledge set. I’ve seen his cars go fast numerous times, with different drivers behind the wheel, and he and David were really fast together the last two or three years.
A steady crew chief is stability for a team and that’s something I haven’t had the last few years.