Stewart calls for end of on-track retaliations
Tony Stewart won the Tums Fast Relief 500 thanks to a caution flag that flew when Brian Vickers retaliated against Matt Kenseth, but that doesn’t mean that Stewart thinks such retaliation is right.
|Now that he is a team owner he does not believe in retaliation on the race track, which would cost him money. He prefers to bloody a lip or two back in the garage area|
Stewart, who intentionally wrecked Brian Vickers earlier this year at Sonoma, has said all season that drivers are showing less and less respect on the track.
Stewart says drivers don’t confront each other personally after an on-track incident because they are afraid of negative media exposure and NASCAR penalties, and that just causes hard feelings to brew and eventually leads to retaliation.
Coupled with NASCAR’s “boys have at it” policy, and Stewart is confused about what is acceptable and what is not.
“NASCAR is going to have to at some point make these drivers be responsible for their actions amongst each other and not babysit and not protect these guys,” Stewart said after winning the crash-marred race at Martinsville. “Let them get their butt kicked. That's what used to happen in the old days. You didn't have guys dumping each other and taking cheap shots like that.”
Vickers wrecked two drivers, and one of them, Jamie McMurray, tried to retaliate and ended up wrecking himself. Matt Kenseth was a victim of a Vickers’ retaliatory strike after Kenseth intentionally wrecked Vickers for running into him.
“He just kept hitting me in the door,” Kenseth said of Vickers. “I gave him the bottom … and he just kept driving in harder and harder and he slammed me in the door at least five times and just ran me up in the marbles and I was just tired of it, so I spun him out.”
Such incidents aggravate Stewart.
“You can't just make it a free-for-all obviously,” Stewart said. “But when you got guys … Jamie McMurray's car was destroyed. He waited for his opportunity to take out a guy he had a problem with. Whether it was justified or not, he took that opportunity.
“We’ve got to get away from doing that and let guys settle it in the garage area with guys that have the problem.”
Stewart said it is unfair to crewmen who work on the cars and team owners who have to pay for them for drivers to retaliate and then have innocent bystanders get caught up in the action.
“I used to be as guilty of it and as bad as anybody about taking a cheap shot at guys early,” Stewart said. “But you realize that it's not about the two guys driving the cars out there as much as there's a bunch of guys that go back to the shop. There's a car owner that spends a lot of money. There's a bunch of crew guys that spend a lot of hours and put a lot of heart and soul into what we have as a product each week with these race cars. I think at times we all forget about that.
“Even as a car owner now, I remember Joe Gibbs sitting me down and saying, ‘There's other guys working on these things, too.’ You knock the nose off of it after a race because you're mad at somebody, all of a sudden you created a lot more work for these guys. Maybe the crew guys need to get mad at their drivers when we do something stupid. Maybe the crew guys ought to pull the drivers back in the shop and make them fix it when they do it.” More at Scenedaily.com