Stewart At The Podium – What You See Is What You Get
Two-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart usually takes a few minutes each week to address the motorsports media.
It’s pretty standard for drivers in the top-10 to come in for media sessions. As a matter of fact, NASCAR requires it to make sure members of the press have a chance to get quotes for their stories.
So what makes everyone listen a bit more intently when Stewart is at the center of the grilling? He ranks as the most outspoken among drivers in the Sprint Cup garage. It’s not his nature to hold back when delivering his answers, even if NASCAR officials are in the room. What you see with Stewart is what you get. He tells it EXACTLY the way he sees it.
Stewart addressed several topics at Daytona, including the tandem-style racing that’s been seen in events there this season as well as Talladega.
So is the Columbus, Ind., native a fan of the two-car hook ups?
“It doesn’t matter. There’s pros and cons to it,” Stewart said. “But there were pros and cons to three-wide and 11 rows deep too. The good thing is paired up we actually have a chance to race other cars and you’re not boxed in and stuck in a line trying to figure out if you’re in the right line or not. It kind of is what it is. It’s just different. It’s not better or worse, it’s just different than what we’ve been doing in the past here.”
Then came a question about Stewart's run-in with Brian Vickers at Infineon Raceway. Stewart was irritated with Vickers’ style of racing and called it blocking. Stewart used his front-end to boot Vickers out of the way - but got a dose of his own medicine near the end of the race when Vickers returned the favor.
Stewart poked a jab at motorsports writer Bob Pockrass for asking it.
“Of course Bob, I knew you would be the one asking this question today,” Stewart said. “Honestly, I did talk to Vickers. We had our drivers meeting that NASCAR asked us all to participate in and he was one of the first people I saw. We were laughing about it and talking about it.
“He told me that he wasn’t blocking. I just explained to him that of all people I didn’t want it to be him either. I told him that I had drawn a line in the sand with the guys that were doing it. We didn’t even agree to disagree because he explained his side and I understood his side and he understood my side.
“I’ve talked to other drivers too and I didn’t anticipate to get the kind of support that I’m getting with some of these guys. It’s not the whole field saying that by any means – I haven’t talked to everybody. I did talk to two or three different guys yesterday and the two or three guys that I spoke to agreed that it’s a problem that’s getting worse, not better.
“Honestly, whether they agree or disagree – I don’t care. I’ve drawn my line in the sand and the next guy that blocks me, he is going to also suffer the same fate. It doesn’t matter who it is. That’s what it’s going to be.”
When reminded that he finished 30th after being dumped by Vickers, Stewart shot back, “I’ll make sure when I do it next time that the guy doesn’t have the opportunity to come back and wreck me.”
Stewart hopes to be the driver who unseats Jimmie Johnson as Sprint Cup champion this season and collect his third career title.
He was reminded his quest to stop blocking in the sport may cost him dearly as far as points are concerned and could derail his Chase hopes.
“It very well might,” Stewart said. “I’m going to stay the course on it. I’m just to the point where I’m fed up with some of the ways some of these guys are racing each other.
“If we miss the Chase because of it then so be it and that’s not what the team is going to want to hear. That’s not what our sponsors are going to want to hear, but so be it. It is what it is and there are 42 guys out there and they know how I race and they know what I expect and I don’t race them that way and I’m not going to block guys. If they block me then they will suffer the consequences of it.”
Sounds like Stewart is pretty firm on that topic. He pointed out the many drivers he’s lobbied in recent weeks agree with him.
He wasn’t finished. Not by a long shot.
“I wasn’t the least bit surprised,” Stewart said. “Everybody knows the problem is that if you have one person that is taking advantage of a situation then it forces everybody else to do the same thing or else you’ve put yourself behind and you’re going to get taken advantage of more.
“You don’t have that mutual give and take. More guys are taking more than they’re giving these days. It always used to be self-policed – the drivers have always controlled it.
“The guys are having a harder time doing that when NASCAR’s getting involved in the conversations. This may be different than NASCAR’s view on it, but what happens is the drivers used to be able to handle it amongst each other and then NASCAR said you can’t do this and you can’t do that.
“You can’t go talk about it in a parking lot somewhere, you’re still going to get fined. When you do that, there’s no way for the drivers to actually settle it and get it out whether they agree to disagree – they can’t even get that opportunity. What it does, it festers so much between one side and the other that it just continues the cycle until NASCAR had to get involved. Then it still doesn’t get resolved, really.”
“You learn to choose your battles. You choose to fight the fights that are worth fighting and finally you just get to a point where you’ve had enough of something. On this particular topic with blocking and guys blocking each other on the race track – I’m to that point. Maybe I’m the only one that’s gotten to that point, but I’m not the only one that’s talking about it.”
Stewart was rather fired up with the next question. The topic was the aggressiveness of the drivers as the Chase draws nearer over the next 10 weeks.
“How long have we been doing the Chase here?” Stewart quickly responded “Three, four, five or six years? It’s always been that way. It’s not going to be different this year than it has any other year. Guys that are trying to get in are going to be working hard to get in. Those that are on the edge of possibly getting bumped out are still going to be working hard to stay in.
“You still aren’t going to win the race and you still aren’t going to make the Chase if your car is wadded up in a ball sitting against the fence because you did something stupid. You’re going to race the race the same way.”
When he gets to Kentucky Speedway for the inaugural Sprint Cup event there this weekend, Stewart will address more questions from the media with passion and some pretty firm opinions.
But that’s Stewart at his best.
- CHAMPION PROFILE: Derek Thorn Captures Title In Second Full Season Of K&N West Competition DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Derek Thorn and...
- Coby Moving To MSR For 2014 Season 2012 Whelen Modified Tour Champ To Take Over No. 2 Seat DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The dominoes...
- Our Racing Makes Driver Change For 2014 Rookie Barrett Set To Take Over Seat Previously Held By Stefanik DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. –...