Tony Stewart took aim at NASCAR during his
weekly radio show on Tuesday, accusing the sanctioning body of
“playing God” in using phantom “debris” caution flags to affect
the outcome of races following a rash of suspect yellows in
Saturday night’s Nextel Cup race at Phoenix Int’l Raceway.
On his weekly radio show “Tony Stewart Live” on
Sirius Satellite Radio’s NASCAR channel, Stewart vented his
frustration at the seemingly endless string yellow flags waved
for debris which have influenced the outcome of several races so
far this season, comparing NASCAR to the likes of World
“I guess NASCAR thinks 'Hey, wrestling worked,
and it was for the most part staged, so I guess it's going to
work in racing, too,’” he said. “I can't understand how long the
fans are going to let NASCAR treat them like they're stupid
before the fans finally turn on NASCAR.
Four of the six caution flags waved Saturday
night were for debris, which some have said are fabricated by
NASCAR in order to bunch up the field to promote a more exciting
And Phoenix was just the latest in a string of
races that have been punctuated by debris cautions.
“I don't know that they've run a fair race all
year,” Stewart said. “It's like playing God. They can almost
dictate the race instead of the drivers doing it. It's happened
too many times this year.”
Stewart was so upset at the officiating at
Phoenix on Saturday that he blew off a NASCAR-mandated
appearance in the Media Center following the race to show NASCAR
“I didn’t want to go to the media center and bash NASCAR,”
Stewart said. “It’s about the integrity of the race and the
integrity of the sport and when I feel like our own sanctioning
body isn’t taking care of that, it’s hard to support them. It’s
hard to feel proud about being a driver in the NASCAR Nextel Cup
Series when they’re throwing debris cautions.”
In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, NASCAR vice
president of corporate communications Jim Hunter called
Stewart’s comments “disappointing”.
“To hear that Tony Stewart said these things is very, very
disappointing,” Hunter said. “NASCAR has been running races
since 1948 and the safety of the drivers is our first priority.
It has always been that way and will continue to be that way.
“We have more people and more resources than ever officiating
our races. The safety of the drivers is our first priority. It
has always been that way and will continue to be that way.
NASCAR has said they do not plan to penalize Stewart for his
remarks, nor does his team plan to take any action for Stewart
skipping out on the post-race press conference, as Stewart is
not obligated to participate under the terms of his contract.
“There's nothing – zero - in my contract that says I have to do
(the press conference)," Stewart said. "We do that as a courtesy
to NASCAR and the media. The thing with the media is they think
it's our obligation to do those things. It's not our obligation.
It's a privilege that they get to do that.
“NASCAR is the ones that always ask us to go to the media
center, so instead of doing what they wanted, they don't do what
we want to do and run the race fair. So why would I go to the
media center and make them happy?”
Since the start of the season, over 15 caution
flags have been thrown for debris, including several that were
waved in the closing laps that could have affected the finish.
“As soon as there is one piece of rubber off a
tire on the track they’re all more than willing to throw the
caution to bunch everybody up and keep guys on the lead lap,”
Stewart said. “I don’t know how long NASCAR thinks it can treat
the fans like they’re ignorant before the fans finally start
turning on the officials and say, ‘Listen, let these guys race.’