Tony Stewart on Soapbox: Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Tony Stewart finished fourth in this year’s Brickyard 400 but he has won twice at Indianapolis, in 2005 and again in 2007, shown here.

While celebrating Ryan Newman’s Brickyard 400 win on Sunday, Tony Stewart stepped up to the soapbox and lecture everyone about what racing truly is.

Asked how NASCAR or Indianapolis Motor Speedway could increase passing, the three-time Sprint Cup Series champion argued passing does not equal quality racing.

“Look up ‘racing’ in the dictionary and tell me what it says in the dictionary, then look up ‘passing’. We’re racing here,” Stewart said, as he lectured the media.

“This is about racing. This is about cars being fast. It doesn’t have to be two‑ and three‑wide racing all day long to be good racing,” he continued.

Throughout his career, Stewart has made many off-the-cuff and controversial comments, but perhaps none have elicited the amount of reaction as those made at Indy.

Immediately, the media and fans alike criticized Stewart’s comments on social media, while numerous articles countering his point flowed the next day.

This is not the first time Stewart has caused a stir with his comments. From calling out other drivers for blocking, Goodyear on the quality of their product or media members for the quality of their questions, if Stewart has an opinion, he’s not afraid to voice it.

However, Stewart is often contradictory in what he says and what he does on the track.

In 2011 at Sonoma, Stewart grew tired of being blocked by Brian Vickers and wrecked him early in the race. Vickers returned the favor later in the

Austin Dillon won the first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Eldora, the dirt track Stewart owns. There was plenty of passing in the race.

event and sent Stewart atop the tire barriers.

Following the incident, the former champion made a clear statement to the entire garage, “If they block, they are going to get dumped. It is real simple. I mean, I don’t blame him for dumping us back. But I don’t race guys that way – I never have. If guys want to block then they are going to wrecked every time.

“Until NASCAR makes a rule against it, I am going to dump them every time for it,” he added.

Fast-forward to the Talladega Chase race in 2012 and Stewart throws a block on Michael Waltrip’s last-lap move for the lead. What ensued was a 25-car wreck that will make NASCAR highlights for years.

His response?

“I just screwed up,” he said. “I turned down…and crashed the whole field. It was my fault blocking to try to stay where I was. So, I take 100% of the blame.”

Yet when the roles were reversed earlier this season at Auto Club Speedway, Stewart went after Joey Logano following the race for blocking on the final restart of the race while battling for the lead.

Again, do as I say, not as I do.

While Stewart is entitled to his opinion, and his role as a former champion elevates his perspective above many others in the sport, it is difficult to take it seriously when it proves to be contradictory on many levels.

A dedicated racer, Stewart is the type of driver spends his nights behind the wheel of a Sprint Car at a local dirt track during the week before heading to the track for his NASCAR duties.

Passing and side-by-side action is a staple in most forms of dirt track racing, perhaps no more evident than in last week’s much-anticipated NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Eldora Speedway.

The action was intense and filled with passing, slide jobs and hard racing. Fans loved it, drivers loved it and track owner Stewart beamed with pride.

If the short track action – so full of side-by-side action and passing – is what Stewart loves, then is that not racing at its purest?

While Stewart’s resume and accomplishments in racing make him a voice that should be listened to, his often-contradictory actions make it difficult to do just that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Viktor says:

    It just makes me wonder how every respected driver in the cup garage doesn’t have this issue the media has; in which you all seem to keep jumping on this bandwagon of “Stewart’s a hypocrite”. So I question you this Jay: What do you think the problem and disconnect here is? Jimmie Johnson fully understands Smoke every time he brings up a point? Jeff Gordon get’s it and if you go down the line, most all prominent drivers don’t see this issue you raise. Maybe it’s the fact that being a journalist means by nature, you have to question everything? Or maybe the media just over-thinks things and tries to put two and two together to make five? The end result here is that in the garage, alongside his peers, they understand his point and respect it. That’s all that counts to Tony, I assure you.

    • Rakeman says:

      Viktor, Of course his peers understand. The driver’s perspective from track level at speed has zero to do with the fan’s perspective. My first race as fan a was in 1961 and loved close action and passing. I drove for 5 years in the early eighties and the best races were the ones with hard racing. There is no relationship between watching a race and driving in one. Every racer I knew thrived on passing the guy ahead of him. Hours after a race little flashes of the race come into your head and 90% of them have something to do with passing or getting passed. My big problem with Smoke’s comments is that he is lecturing the media and the fans from a perspective they cannot understand unless they are or have been racers. Based on his comments, practice and qualifying are the “real” race. We can skip the 400 on Sunday.

  2. regina spence says:

    Nice article, Tony’s statement after the Brickyard made no sense. As a fan, I’m not going to pay money to see cars just driving fast one after another. I’m looking for side by side racing and the fun of watching a driver be able to pass, not this parity junk. Eldora put on an enjoyable race – there was PASSING everywhere during the event.

  3. Jeff says:

    Another ridiculous article from a media member that doesn’t like to get “lectured.” I’m guessing Tony was talking about Indy in general and not other tracks. Granted he did not clarify that. So far the media has yet to get NASCAR to eliminate the race at Indy which is what they really want. Why keep repeating the same thing about a lack of passing there over and over again. The drivers like to race there because its Indy. I still don’t see how trying to get down in front of a line of cars at Dega is the same as blocking at other tracks. Anyone that says its the same doesn’t know squat about racing.

  4. jeff says:

    I agree, but this is nothing new with him. I remember several years ago in Daytona he was complaining about drivers blocking and reckless driving and how they were going to kill someone and the very next day he runs Matt 20 feet off the track into the grass. G
    reat driver but has double standard, he acts like an only child.

  5. Christian Budd says:

    Although I agree with some of the article, people in the media such as yourself really show your lack of racing knowledge when you compare Daytona and Talladega (where blocking is accepted and the norm) to other tracks where blocking is frowned upon.

    They are two different styles of racing (although “racing” should be in quotations when talking about Daytona/Talladega) that are as different as a speedway and a road course. So, please, find another example of Stewart blocking (and there are plenty, he is very hypocritical when it comes to that topic) when you want to point out that he is a whiner.

    On the topic of Indy – He is right and wrong. In terms of a race, yes it was a race. That doesn’t mean that it is interesting or exciting as a spectator, and Nascar bills itself as a spectator sport and being the most exciting form or racing. They should always be working towards improving their product.

    Frankly, the Gen 6 car is a failure in every department except for looks. Why they ADDED downforce (which has clearly made the car more aero sensitive than ever before) instead of taking it away is baffling. Carl Edwards is right, cut down the spoiler and ditch the splitter. I would also say take away some horsepower and go to a narrower tire. Make these cars slide around and rely on mechanical grip, and we might see some side by side racing and passing.

    At the end of the day, once the fastest car gets out front it is pretty much over in terms of passing for the lead. I mean, who is going to pass the fastest car? However, Nascar could fix this problem, too. Qualifying should be for the purpose of pit selection and making the race, but the starting grid should be set by reverse points. Yes, allow the super underfunded teams to start in the back so they don’t wreck the field in turn one, but imagine how interesting the first 100 laps of the race would be as the fast cars have to slice their way through the field. As it is right now, the guys who are fast already start up front, so we don’t see much passing.

    It will never happen, though. We keep watching, so why change the formula. I’ve boycotted a few, and lost interest in a lot, but it’s the same as it has been since the COT was introduced.

  6. spoonman says:

    Nothing but a whiner, should go drag racing if that is the kind of racing he wants. Anyone who still defends Danica`s stats only because she is a sponsor magnet shouldn`t even be interviewed.

  7. Jay says:

    He may have personality issues, but he’s the most skilled driver since Dale Earnhardt. Yes, I’d put him ahead of Johnson and Gordon

    • 61starliner says:

      Well the statistics don’t meet your claim. I think maybe you make these decisions with your heart rather than your head.

      • DirtRacer9814 says:

        Oh really???? Why don’t you look up how many TOTAL wins in all forms of racing not just nascar that those 3 have……..I think maybe you make decisions using your other head.

  8. Ken says:

    Apparently, Mr. Stewart needs a lesson on what racing is. Of course racing is passing! The whole point of a race is for drivers to try to beat other drivers by PASSING them. Tony seems to think that he’s the center of the universe, that all of the lowly people around him need a Stewart lecture on the ways of the world whenever there’s something he doesn’t like. He took offense to the “boring” label because he loves Indy. I love Indy, too, but it’s NOT a stock car track, pure and simple. Stock car racing at Indy is awful, but Mr. “Do As I Say, Not As I Do” doesn’t seem to understand that!

  9. 61starliner says:

    Tony should look up race car driver, in the dictionary and see who meets those qualifications Ryan Newman or Danica Patrick. I think we all know the answer to that.
    As far as I’m concerned Tony Stewart has no room to talk about the racing when he won’t even hire a real race car driver. I’ll bet she barely makes the top 30 this season. What a joke

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