View Full Version : Where there's Smoke, there's ire

07-26-2006, 10:32 AM
Since there's no race this week... Would we be more tolerant of this type of on-track behavior if The Intimidator were still with us?

Last Lap: Where there's Smoke, there's ire

By Marty Smith, NASCAR.COM
July 25, 2006

Tony Stewart is a living, breathing oxymoron.

There is the selfless Tony Stewart, humble and compassionate, described so eloquently by Pattie Petty five days ago in this very cranny of cyberspace; he of genuine altruism whose grace, generosity and love for the Petty family, and for the initiatives they champion, had helped suppress the pain of an incurable emotional wound.

Then there's the other side, the selfish Tony Stewart, the polar opposite; he of the 3,400-pound body slam, seemingly unable to differentiate between that which he preaches and that which he practices.

He incessantly complains about others' unwillingness to "give-and-take," yet for the second consecutive week refused to give an inch early in the race and damaged a Home Depot Chevrolet potentially capable of going to Victory Lane.

I understand it's racing, and ultimately its fundamental premise is going faster than, and passing, the next guy. But there's a bigger picture here, and if Stewart isn't careful he'll not find himself in it.

See, last year he let adversity ride, didn't let it get to him. Come December he was the champion. This year he's letting it get to him, and it could potentially mark his demise.

At New Hampshire, Ryan Newman was a lap down and on new tires. But instead of letting Newman scurry off to try to get a lap back, Stewart raced him as if it were the final turn of the final lap. He wanted to make a point: I'm tired of the way you're racing me.

They wrecked. Did Stewart make his disdain for Newman's advancement tactics known? Absolutely. Was it worth it? I'd venture to say not. It was Lap 91. And the 12 couldn't run with the 20 that day, anyway.

But instead of battling Kyle Busch for a victory, Stewart's emotions got away from him and he paid for it with a 37th-place finish.

Fast forward to Pocono. It's the old "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me" deal. Did Clint Bowyer pinch Stewart into the wall off the corner? Possibly. Was it blatant? No way. Was it worthy of retaliation? Absolutely not.

"I'm taking 100 percent responsibility for the final incident that occurred on lap 32 between myself, the 07 [Clint Bowyer] and the 99 [Carl Edwards]. It was totally my fault.

"At the same time, there were circumstances that led up to that wreck, and after talking with Clint this morning, we both have a better understanding as to what happened. He was trying to get out of my way and didn't realize that I had gone to the outside.

"He thought I was to his inside, and when he tried to give me some room, he slid into us and it put us into the outside wall. I reacted, causing the wreck that I take responsibility for and regret."

To his credit, Stewart took full responsibility Monday afternoon once he'd studied the replay and discussed the evolution of the collision with Bowyer.

The Pennsylvania 500-mile race was just 78 miles old. Stewart's heat-of-the-moment, rash decision effectively ruined an innocent bystander's opportunity to run for a championship.

Then, following the race, he again discussed others' unwillingness to race as they'd like to be raced.

"If the 3 car was here, I don't think we would have the same problems in this series as we have," Stewart said in reference to Dale Earnhardt's forceful method of getting a point across. "He always had a way of letting drivers know where they stood and when to move and when not to move.

"It's just the first-year and second-year drivers that don't understand that there needs to be a little give and take. There is only a handful of guys that don't get it, but the problem is they are in good racecars and they don't run up front enough to learn from the rest of us how to race up front."

There is certainly a different racing etiquette among the top-10 positions than that found among the bottom 20. Any driver will tell you that. Bowyer is learning. He has five top-10 finishes, and has been a top-10 car more often than that.

Some folks want to nominate Tony Stewart the Nextel Cup mayor, the voice of reason. Not me, at least not at this stage of his career. (Jeff Burton is the guy, in my opinion, especially now that he's up front again.)

Stewart is wonderfully, admirably philanthropic. He is also NASCAR's best driver.

But a voice of reason he is not. Voices of reason ponder the big picture.

In opening his heart and wallet to others, Stewart is all big picture, driven by a genuine want of the greater-good for those he cares about and for those less fortunate than him.

But in the competitive arena, and considering the manner in which he's currently racing, the big picture is the last thing on his mind.

To close, a few e-mails on the subject:

D. Critch: After [Sunday's] race, let us hope that Mike Helton and the powers that be also dock Tony at least 25 points. (Unfortunately to be fair they will have to dock Carl Edwards.)

Tony has been very busy preaching this year about rough driving, yet he is in the thick of it 90 percent of the time. He gets on his high horse and lectures and makes false claims.

Please teach him a harder lesson than he received at the race (especially in lieu of giving the finger to another driver.) Edwards' penalty was harsher. He had to start at the back, not double-file.

Again, Edwards lost the most in the altercation. One man's frustration at another for a perceived transgression, from which Edwards was completely removed, ultimately sealed his season's fate.

So here he sits, one year removed from finishing 30 points short of a championship, virtually eliminated from the 2006 Chase for the Nextel Cup.

How's Edwards supposed to feel? He made it clear how he'd prefer to react. But even if he'd gotten the chance to "make [Stewart] bleed," he'd still be racing for 11th come New Hampshire.


07-26-2006, 10:33 AM
- Continued -

It's that big picture thing, again.

And as ridiculously unfortunate as Sunday proved to be for Edwards, one good thing did come of it -- one of the greatest quotes in NASCAR history, a tirade by Edwards' docile standards:

"Man, I've got to choose my words carefully. Let me just say this, if it weren't for respect of the sport and the people watching and his team and everything, he'd be out there bleeding right now. How can a person make it this far in life being that much of a jerk?

"He ran into Clint. I saw it on the big screen. He turned into Clint and took both him and I out and probably made it just about impossible for us to make the Chase, and then when I pull up beside him and wave my hand like, 'What was that about?' He gives me the finger. I mean, what a jerk. I don't even know what to say. It's amazing to me that someone can be that special.

"I want to like Tony. He's a hard racer and all that, but how can you like somebody like that? It's just amazing. If you hold that guy up, like if he thinks you held him up, he gets so upset and then he can wreck two guys and give you the finger. That's spectacularly self-centered. I can't imagine being like that."

You can't make this stuff up.

Val Keith: Hello, Marty. My husband says I talk before I think so I haven't wrote in a while, but I have been thinking for three weeks so I believe I'm ready to talk. I hate NASCAR.

They are bias and let some people get by with all kinds of crap and then let Tony Stewart show his displeasure and they penalize him and he is going to have to race his way back on the lead lap.

They can all kiss my butt. Jeff Gordon should have been penalized in Chicago. Smoke wouldn't have ran out of gas if Sissy Boy hadn't caused that caution. The race would have been over. Then Ryan Newman ran up on him last week and did NASCAR do anything? NO.

Then there are all those mouths on TNT who say the only person who can take Tony out of the Chase is Tony himself. I will be so glad when ABC takes over their slot next year. I sure hope they don't get B.P. [Benny Parsons] and the others to come to ABC.

Sorry, Val, I'm with "all those mouths on TNT," so I reckon I'll pucker on up. Stewart deserved a harsher penalty than that which NASCAR levied. At least two laps -- heck, at least make the transgressor restart at the tail end of the longest line so he has to pass some cars to get back on the lead lap.

And for the record, I don't think Stewart's body slam of Bowyer is comparable to Gordon's spin-for-the-win at Chicagoland.

Gordon spun another driver to win a race. Stewart body-slammed a guy 31 laps into a 200-lap race -- for 12th position -- because he lost his temper. Completely different dynamics.

Granted, Kenseth had every right to be ticked -- no question Gordon had Bristol payback on his mind -- but ultimately it boiled down to two guys trying everything in their power to win.

On that note, don't think for a moment self-policing is extinct. Gordon waited for the chance to repay Kenseth for Bristol. That's the deal these days: Get me, I'll get you back. It might be three weeks, might be three months, but it'll come back to you.

Gordon was quite outspoken about the subject when it was broached on Not What You Expected, Jimmie Johnson's XM Radio show.

Gordon: "It's now in [Kenseth's] court. It's really up to him. If he thinks that now he's got to get me back, I'm just going to tell you that there won't be too many championships in his future.

"I'm just going to tell you right now. In my opinion we were as clean as we could possibly be. He didn't hit anything. The only time he hit anything was after he tried to pass on the apron at the checkered, and I hate he got caught up in that, but that wasn't my doing.

"I feel like we're even. I feel like the situations are very, very similar. Now the ball's in his court. If he feels like he has to retaliate it's just going to open a whole can of worms and it's just going to get ugly."

Johnson: "Keeping the respect."

Gordon: "That's right."

Coming back from break, Gordon went a step further, explaining how difficult it is to garner respect in the first place, much less being someone other drivers feel they can push around.

It's safe to say folks will think twice about pushing Stewart around.

Ray Miller, Lenexa, Kan.: If NASCAR were serious about stopping on track incidents that really need to be stopped, they would do the right thing.

After Tony Stewart announced a pending body slam to Clint Bowyer at Pocono by sticking his hand out the window, NASCAR gave a one-lap penalty, which was a minor slap as Tony was soon back on lead lap going to the front.

Question: If NASCAR were serious to end these kind of incidents, would not a five-lap penalty send the proper message? They did say they would react more harshly, but at first opportunity they simply failed.

I don't disagree, Ray. NASCAR's penalty certainly won't deter the continuance of the trend.

Carolyn, Ferndale, Md.: Hi, Marty. I waited a couple of days to comment on the Stewart incident on Sunday because I kind of think fans so overreact when anything involving him happens.

I actually wait to listen to some of the more experienced drivers to see what they think of the whole thing and generally they tend to have a mature resolve as to what happened.

Most of them believe it was a racing deal that Tony reacted to being pushed into the wall -- he was punished by NASCAR for his reaction and came back for a great seventh-place finish.

The things that were said by Carl Edwards were way out of line and I am so glad Jack Roush yanked him in and told him to calm down. Good for you, Jack!

I believe Tony has been taken out this year by racing deals and did not begin to react the way Carl did. I know it wasn't his fault - he was an innocent bystander -- but he did not need to say the things he said.

He needs to grow up and learn from some of the other young ones who think they are invincible. Look at the turn around that Kyle Busch has done -- learned a lot from Tony, I believe! He is in the Chase for the championship. Jeff Green took Tony out of a race this year -- did Tony react like that? -- he was done for the day.

Carl, you are not the only driver ever taken out on a racing deal and it will happen many times in the future -- it is just hard racing!

Michael Waltrip agrees, Carolyn. Monday evening on Inside Nextel Cup he considered it a "racing deal."

Ultimately, Stewart is pretty fortunate. The contact with Bowyer didn't inhibit his racecar's performance. Had it, he could well be in a position akin to Edwards'.

07-26-2006, 10:35 AM
Stewart is a hypocrite. It's pretty simple.

07-26-2006, 10:46 AM
The Intimidator would have ran him into the wall by now, I'm sure! I think Stewart is very arrogant and pompous. Blech!

tony hipchest
07-26-2006, 11:12 AM
stewart is most definitely an ass. and to think sirius radio is gonna give him his own show so he can preach and admire himself on a daily/weekly basis. i dont think i'll be tuning in.

07-26-2006, 12:14 PM
He has more talent than anyone in NASCAR. But he's an arrogant jerk. He comes from the school of do as I say and not as I do. His fans will tell you that there's nothing wrong with the way he acts.

But I have a hard time with swallowing that.

Fire Haley
07-26-2006, 08:05 PM
Too bad Suit isn't around to answer...guess we'll have to wait till Tony starts winning again...heh

07-27-2006, 11:29 AM
I hope Jeff Burton "smokes" his rear at the Brickyard.