Tony Sets The Stage
After last Sunday's Budweiser Shootout Tony Stewart complained that the racing was crazy and that someone was going to die. This outrageous public statement by the defending NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Champion certainly got NASCAR's attention.
Starting with Thursday's Gatorade Duel at Daytona NASCAR added additional officials to specifically watch for "aggressive driving." I think this was a great move by NASCAR. If the drivers can't police themselves then threaten them with competitive consequences.
Tony Stewart vs Jeff Gordon
Early in the 2006 Daytona 500 Jeff Gordon got a little loose and slid up across Tony Stewart's nose. Tony got into Jeff and both drivers brushed the wall. This contact was hard enough that it effectively ended Jeff's chance to win.
After the race Jeff said that while the incident was basically his fault he thought that Tony could have given him a break if he wanted to.
Tony Stewart vs Matt Kenseth
This was where the real 2006 Daytona 500 fireworks happened. Apparently there was some contact between Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart that Tony took exception to. That incident wasn't captured on TV but regardless of what happened it couldn't have warranted Tony's response.
What America saw was Tony Stewart pull down sharply across Matt Kenseth's nose. This forced Matt onto the grass at 185MPH where he had virtually no control. Matt's car came back up across the track and into the outside wall. Fortunately nobody hit him. This could have been very bad.
Tony Stewart came close to being correct when he said that someone was going to die. This incident could have been it.
Tony Stewart vs Kyle Busch
Late in the race Stewart and Kyle Busch were involved in a brutal battle on the track. Both drivers were taking and there was very little giving. Fortunately this battle did not end up with a more serious crash.
After the race Tony said "Kyle Busch, he's the one guy that's probably going to hurt somebody out there."
Considering Tony's move on Kenseth does that statement seem a bit odd to anyone else?
Tony Stewart vs Tony Stewart
Lets say that you just committed an act with your race car that would be considered assault with a deadly weapon if you did that on the highway. Would you get out of your car and essentially admit that you did it on purpose? No lawyer in the world would defend you if you did.
So what did Tony Stewart have to say about the Matt Kenseth incident? "He started the whole thing and I finished it." This incredible admission leaves Tony no place to hide. He basically admitted that he did it on purpose.
NASCAR vs Tony Stewart?
Now the question is, what will NASCAR do about it?
During the race they sent Tony to the back of the pack for his "aggressive driving." That hardly seems like a just punishment for such a blatant act of violence.
NASCAR needs to let the drivers know that they are serious about their aggressive driving enforcement. Tony Stewart needs to hear from NASCAR loud and clear that this is not acceptable behavior. I hope to see some severe penalties handed out when NASCAR announces their post-race actions later this week.
Isn't it ironic that the driver who complained the loudest proves to be the biggest problem?