LONDON: The Racing Journal
VALLEY STREAM, N.Y. — Tony Stewart sure “Smoked ’em,” as he won his third NASCAR Sprint Cup title in very convincing style.
It has been a long time since someone wheeled a 4,000-pound stock car like Stewart did in Florida Sunday. He had some Fireball Roberts, Curtis Turner, Richie Evans and Dale Earnhardt in him at Homestead. Moreover, he drove like his idol A.J. Foyt.
He made moves that would scare the late Tim Richmond. Kyle Busch should sit down and watch a replay of Sunday’s race. He would find it is possible to overdrive one of those slugs and make daring moves without crashing into his rivals.
When the race started and Stewart was seven rows behind point-leader Carl Edwards, I thought he had no chance at all. Edwards had put up good numbers at Homestead. Also, Jack Roush apparently had Carl point racing all season, just like Mark Martin used to when he drove for Roush.
Edwards won just one race, last winter at Las Vegas. He spent most of the year, staying out of trouble, racking up points.
NASCAR is probably gloating over the close point finish. Remember, the beloved Chase was started because Matt Kenseth, another Roush driver, won the last title under the old system. Like Edwards, he won one race.
NASCAR said it wanted winning to be more important. They almost blew it this year with Stewart, who won five races, just tied Carl but got the nod because the biggest winner got the tiebreaker.
It was an exciting day and it added to Stewart’s most impressive resume. He has won 12 national titles. He won all three USAC, midget, sprint and Silver Crown nods in one season, an almost hard to fathom feat.
He was IRL IndyCar champion, the only driver ever to be titleholder in racing’s two major circuits. He has an IROC crown. He also has won the car owner’s championship in USAC and the World of Outlaws. His cars have won the Knoxville Nationals multiple times. As a driver, he won his first Outlaw feature this year. He also owns Ohio’s Eldora Speedway and his third NASCAR crown was his first as a driver/owner, last achieved by the late Alan Kulwicki, 19 years ago.
Tony turned age 40 this year and has a lot of great years left. His one void is the Indianapolis 500. His two wins in the Brickyard 400 were emotional for him, being a Hoosier. With his considerable wealth, I say he should take a year and devote it to winning the Memorial Day classic. We all know he can do it. Tony seems to have mellowed personally. The pressures of owning his own team don’t seem to phase him at all.
When mentioning the greatest race drivers of all time, Tony Stewart should rank with the best of them, including A.J., who’s number 14 Tony proudly wears on his Cup car.
It was Championship weekend at Homestead. The fans hardly turned out for the Trucks on Friday and the Nationwide series on Saturday.
It is obvious NASCAR “programs” its TV commentators. On both days and two different networks. Every lap was treated like it was crucial. With all the start-and-parkers on Saturday, Ricky Stenhouse’s clinching was almost automatic, since he only had to finish 37th. That didn’t stop his royal dullness Marty Reid from hyping the non-story.
Friday’s truck race was worse. Every move eventual champion Austin Dillon made had to be reported over and over again, even though he needed to finish only 16th.
There was a time when drivers were called Outlaws because they raced anytime and everywhere all season. The World of Outlaws apparently doesn’t see it that way. Young Cody Darrah, who finished 10th in the final standings, was docked a considerable amount of money because he missed one race. This is very unfair. Maybe the Outlaw folks think treating their drivers like NASCAR does is a good thing. Also, Jason Sides was hit with a bigger penalty because he raced elsewhere instead of an Outlaw date.
Circumstances dictated this move. I hear Jason has filed suit.
In this day of very tough times for racers and their teams, actions like this are quite over the top.
The Zemco No. 1 sprint car was vacated by Stevie Smith as he is joining Jason Meyers’ team. Fans are asked to vote for a replacement. This could be Milka Duno’s big chance.