I can’t believe what Tony Stewart said in his press conference after Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday, following the race. Stewart has always had it in for the press guys, but has found a way to agitate them without getting in trouble. It’s through the use of belittling sarcasm.
In case you didn’t hear it, he said the following in response to a question regarding Dale Jr’s losing streak:
“It’s no different than anybody else that does it — it’s not a national holiday, guys,” Stewart said. “This morning they were celebrating the fourth anniversary of his last win, so I guess we’re all in a state of mourning now, ’cause he’s broke that string now, so I wonder what we’re all supposed to think.”
I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not a member of Junior Nation, but the guy is a genuine competitor, and deserves more respect that he was shown by the three time Sprint Cup Champ.
His trip down pit road for high fives after he took the checkered flag was somewhat reminiscent of his fathers trip down pit road after the 1998 Daytona 500 where everyone was on deck to congratulate him.
We criticize Kurt Busch these days, and deservedly so, for his treatment of the press, and his antagonistic relationship with other drivers, but Tony Stewart has been down the same road. In 2000, he went into a bird slinging tirade with Jeff Gordon at Watkins Glen after an on-track incident, and he spun Jeff out on pit road after Gordon put the bumper to him at Bristol in 2001. He was fined and put on probation by Nascar.
He also got into an incident at Daytona in 2001 with a Nascar official after ignoring a black flag, and when asked about it by a reporter after the race, kicking his tape recorder. He got into another situation at Talladega with another Nascar Official after refusing to wear the mandated Hans Device during a practice session. Crew Chief Greg Zipadelli intervened and straightened the situation out. After Nascar fines and probations in 2001, Stewart was labeled Nascar’s Bad Boy.
In 2002, the second half of his season was plagued by an altercation with a photographer after the Brickyard 400, NASCAR put Stewart on probation for the rest of the season.
After attending anger management training, Stewart seemed to have mended his rowdy ways and become the Nascar poster boy they wanted. I always suspected team owner Joe Gibbs probably took him behind the woodshed and gave him the old It’s My Way Or The Highway lecture, probably at Home Depot’s request.
The old Tony Stewart seems to be re-surfacing now that he is his own boss. He went into a sarcastic recitation after the Talladega race pointing out how Nascar should run the race to produce more wrecks that all the fans want to see. I’m suspecting he is tired of paying for sheet metal and new race cars now that he is the boss, and having to write the checks for repairs.
In my opinion, his attitude toward Dale Earnhardt’s Jr’s victory yesterday was a further display of his classless attitude, and he is quickly getting on my S— List with Kurt Busch. I don’t think Nascar needs this kind of press, especially from it’s more visible drivers.
Photo Courtesy Getty Images For Nascar
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