Tony Stewart - Temper or Tenacious

 by Karen Courcy
July 17, 2001

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If a driver were described as tenacious, most people would call it a compliment, but if I described that same driver as having a temper, you might not have the same feelings. With all the things that come along with racing, a temper and a desire to win is something that all winning drivers possess. Looking over the last year or so, Tony Stewart is one of those drivers. He has the temper, and the persistent desire to do what it takes to win. To some it's the perfect ingredients for a successful driver, but to others, it's too much for the public to handle.

This week at Chicagoland, Tenacious Tony worked himself to the top 10 and was looking for a top 5 with just 20 miles remaining in the race. But with just eight laps to go, slight contact between Stewart and Sterling Marlin sent Stewart's Pontiac on a lazy spin, impacting high in turn two. Stewart was uninjured, but once again upset after being dropped to a 33rd place finish. Stewart was treated and released at the infield care center. Afterwards, ala Pocono, Stewart made his way to his motor coach and departed the race track shortly thereafter without comment.

Tony Stewart, driver of the Home Depot Pontiac, has always had that desire to win, from midget racing, to Modifieds, to IRL and even Busch, Tony has always shown his love and desire to win. Stewart has been faulted for his outspokenness, and what some might see a bad attitude, but what is wrong with wanting to win?

From Tony Stewarts incident with Kenny Irwin, to his almost fist fight with Robby Gordon, to his outbreaks with Jeff Gordon, it has all been about wanting the win. I don't see anything wrong with this at all; it's actually very refreshing. In a sport where all the drivers are cookie -cutter clean, Stewart is a breath of fresh air. He isn't content to run three laps off the pace, just so his sponsor will get airtime, instead he wants to win. Others will disagree and say that it's a threat and possible harm to the sport, but it definitely keeps the spark going in what NASCAR has made an otherwise dull sport with their strict rules on etiquette. 

I look at Stewart's after race, tape-slapping incident this way. When was the last time you had a reporter on the sidelines of a LA Lakers basketball game ask Shaq how it felt to miss those last two free throws, just as he is sitting down to take a break, or when have you seen a reporter ask Kurt Warner how it felt to throw that third interception, just as the offense was coming off the field. You haven't seen it because it just doesn't happen; NASCAR is a rare sport in that it allows its reporters to go pretty much anywhere they want whenever they wish.

A lot of people will say that Tony has a bad attitude, and others say it makes him the driver we see each weekend. Everyone is going to have his or her own opinions on what is right and what is wrong. There are always 2 sides to the story, temper or tenacious.

The author can be contacted at frankr@autoracing1.com

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