Tony Stewart expressed some strong opinions behind his hauler at Pocono Speedway yesterday, and he did it without uttering a single expletive.
NASCAR.COM’s Dan Gelston reports on the media avail with the driver of the #20 Home Depot Joe Gibbs Racing Chevy. Read the story and you’ll find the writer has a comeback or two for the opinionated Stewart.
“Every time we’ve got to deal with somebody from ESPN it’s a sharp knife trying to dig for dirt,” he said. “I’m not saying they’re not fair questions. Do we always have to leave with a dagger on our back from ESPN? That’s all I’m curious about.”
Maybe he’s just upset because he didn’t win the oh-so coveted “Who’s Now” title.
I wonder, though, did Gelston raise questions like this directly with Stewart? Somehow I doubt it. Tony has a history with the media. In fact, he punched a print reporter several years ago. In front of other reporters. Not a smart move. Still, t’was rather entertaining to fans. Yeah, I like watching a good feud now and again — even between Micky Mouse sports reporters and an alleged beer-swilling tub of lard racer.
What’s really fun, though, is speculating about car-to-car contact on the race track. I’ve seen guys like Sterlin’ Marlin put other cars in the wall as “paybacks” for races several weeks before. See, those good ole boys do have a code of honor — they wouldn’t intentionally enforce a “payback” at Talladega or Daytona. Too dangerous. If a fella gets punted at, say, Watkins Glenn (road course) he’d maybe wait til Bristol or Richmond to “park” the guy he’s mad at. Sometimes drivers will keep doin’ that to each other week after week after week, til everybody forgets who started the whole blamed thing.
Most of the time, though, it’s a 0ne-for-one exchange and the whole thing’s over for awhile.
Which leads me to the most recent on track dust-up. In the closing laps at Indy last week, Tony and Kevin “Happy” Harvick were racing for the lead. Tony drives Happy’s Busch car frequently, and the two are good buddies. The two swapped paint and Tony hit Kevin’s Richard Childress Racing car pretty hard. Tore up the #29 and Harvick dropped like a rock — finally finishing 7th — while Tony drove to victory lane and kissed the bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Happy wasn’t very happy with his ole pard after the race. In the NASCAR.COM story referenced in this post, Tony said this:
Stewart said he reached out to Harvick on Thursday night to work through any hard feelings.
“I’d have been upset if the roles were reversed, too,” he said. “I can’t blame him for that. I made a mistake. I let the car get too high. I’ve heard differences in opinion from people watching tape and I still take responsibility for it. I would never race Kevin like that on purpose. I don’t race anyone like that on purpose. I’m big about racing guys clean and having them race clean.”
Now I love Tony. Cause I love a good feud, and a guy who speaks his mind. Even so, I cracked up at the last line about Tony racing guys clean. Ole Tony’s one a them fellas who’s been accused of on-track paybacks. Of course, we as fans don’t ever know a driver’s intent — no matter how many times we watch a replay or listen to another driver’s opinion. The fun is in the speculatin’.
So I’ll speculate about Tony’s intent in the words, “I don’t race anyone like that on purpose. I’m big about racing guys clean and having them race clean.”
The operative word is racing. I think he’s talking about competing for positions in the closing laps. He’s got enough Mark Martin in him that he wouldn’t punt a guy into the wall for a win or a top 5. What he would do (I think I’ve seen him do) is — sometime in the middle of a short or intermediate track race — come up on a fella who didn’t race him clean a few weeks back and send that car to the garage.
It’s the code.
Which leads us to speculate — will Happy be lookin for Tony at Pocono or at Watkins Glenn next week?
I love a good feud.