INDYCAR: Indy's 'not like it was 20 years ago' - Stewart
Friday, 09 December 2016
RACER staff / Image by LAT
Tony Stewart may be a retired NASCAR driver, but that doesn't mean his racing days are over by any stretch. At the Performance Racing Industry trade show in Indianapolis, Stewart told RACER's Robin Miller that he's now free to race what he wants. Will that include some kind of role at the Indianapolis 500?
"I get to run cars that I want to run, when I want to run em – that's the nice part," Stewart said. "Here at PRI we're gathering all the racetrack schedules and now we get to go home and pick which races we're gonna go to. For 18 years in the Cup series and three more years off and on in the Xfinity series, we were under a pretty strict schedule; now the schedule opens up and we get to pick and choose where we want to be."
One race he won't be doing, at least this time around, is January's popular Chili Bowl midget car race in Tulsa, Okla., since "I've already committed to running the tractor and taking care of the racetrack for them. If I did both (track prep and run the race) and I won, they'd say I groomed the track to suit my style!" Stewart quipped.
Asked whether Stewart would consider forming an IndyCar team, if only for the Indianapolis 500, the 1997 IRL IndyCar champ (pictured that year at the 500, top) suggested his plate was full for the moment with the changes and expansion of Stewart-Haas Racing's NASCAR operation for next season.
"We're switching bodies next year [from Chevy to Ford], adding an Xfinity team, we're starting to build our own chassis next year – we're pretty covered up on expansion right now. But I've learned to never say never with anything."
Stewart emphasized, however, that the prospects for "cherry picking" at Indy are now minimal.
"The hard part about doing the 500 is it's not like it was 20 years ago where you could put together a deal and have a really good Indy program," he said. "You look at the teams that win at Indy and run competitively the whole month of May, and they're the teams that run competitive all year. So the IndyCar deal's probably as tough as it's ever been and you're not just gonna waltz in there on a one-off deal and make it work. That era's long gone. There's too many engineers and wind tunnels and engine dynos and everything else that have taken that opportunity away."
Last edited by senor honda; 02-07-2017 at 05:18 PM.
Tony Stewart and the last Dirt Track Turkey Night Grand Prix
CRANDALL: Why NASCAR needs black hats
Friday, 16 December 2016
Kelly Crandall / Images by LAT
It goes without saying that there will never be another Tony Stewart, but now that he’s hung up his helmet, not to mention his black hat, it’s already left a massive void. In short, NASCAR needs a new bad guy.
When at its best, NASCAR has a traditional narrative with a set of protagonists versus their antagonists. It’s the plot of every successful novel and movie – sporting events too. However, NASCAR recently has featured nothing but 40 good guys driving in circles without a black hat to provide drama.
Sure, Stewart wore his proudly. He stood up for what he believed in and often spoke his mind without care for those who wouldn’t like it. He is a man of conviction. For as talented as Stewart was on track, his sharp tongue played well off the track too. On occasion, Stewart even got physical.
Don’t fear his absence quite yet because NASCAR’s bad boy void could be solved by the arrival of its new entitlement sponsor. Monster Energy is ready to unleash the Attitude Era on NASCAR.
“’Authentic’ is a big word in our vocabulary,” Mitch Covington, Monster Energy’s vice president of sports marketing, was quoted as saying earlier this month after the announcement. “We want to see the emotion – the raw emotion in the sport … And NASCAR is a very emotional sport. The drivers get emotional, and we need to let them be emotional and do what they do.
“We never tell our athletes what to say in an interview. We never script them. We hire them because of the way they are not because of what we want them to say. We want raw emotion and good hard racing.”
It would be a 360 from the past decade under sponsorship from Sprint. A corporate and polished company, Sprint’s NASCAR largely had a clean-cut persona. Rivalries were downplayed and discouraged, with the media often getting accused of manufacturing drama. If drivers spoke their minds or engaged in unruly behavior, a fine was sure to follow.
Those who did try and wear the black hat were quickly vilified. Labels such as complainer, punk and sore loser would be thrown around in addition to criticism about professionalism. Look no further than Joey Logano as the most recent example. After Logano spun Matt Kenseth from the lead at Kansas Speedway in October 2015, Logano all but gloated about it.
He proudly stated he wasn’t going to let Kenseth race him the way he did, feeling as if Kenseth drove him up into the wall the lap before the incident. Over and over, Logano stated he felt he did no wrong in the incident and wouldn’t change a thing.
Soon the Team Penske driver was being serenaded with boos every Sunday, the subject of columns written about how he should have handled things differently, and repeatedly criticized and insulted on social media. When Kenseth wrecked Logano in retaliation at Martinsville Speedway two weeks later, Logano stood his ground and called it a "coward move."
Then came Logano’s change in course. He slowly started to back down from the feud through 2016 by deflecting questions as the past being the past. By the time the Chase started again, Logano had come out and admitted he should have called Kenseth after Kansas to avoid any further conflict.
So perhaps Logano didn’t have it in him to wear the black hat – to be a good villain. But surely there is someone in the garage willing to step up to Monster’s expectations.
Keselowski vs Gordon at Texas in 2014.Logano’s teammate Brad Keselowski certainly has the right attributes. The 2012 champion has come into his own in terms of speaking his mind and showing how passionate he is about the sport’s overall health. But Keselowski is considerably more methodical about his approach.
It’s unlikely we’ll ever see Keselowski throw a helmet, a la Stewart at Bristol in 2012. Keselowski will also never stand up and say he could take on anyone in the garage.
Kurt and Kyle Busch were labeled bad guys early in their careers, but both have been more sponsor-aware in recent years. Still fiery on the radio, Kyle Busch hasn’t flipped off a NASCAR official, intentionally wrecked anyone, or hurled insults in an interview in quite a while. Kurt Busch has moved on from threatening reporters.
As NASCAR’s image has changed throughout the years, so too have the rules. As recently as last year a new behavioral policy was introduced when it comes to conduct both on and off the track.
But, a year later, its new title sponsor seems ready to go a different direction. The question now is, can team sponsors do the same and allow their drivers to embrace their inner monster?
Just as Tony Stewart embraced wearing his black hat.
Tony Stewart to sponsor third SPM Indy 500 entry
Tuesday, 07 February 2017
RACER Staff / Image by LAT
It might not be behind the wheel, but Tony Stewart is coming back to the Brickyard. The Tony Stewart Foundation will sponsor the No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Motorsport entry in the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500, as part of the creation of the TEAM ONE CURE initiative to benefit the Colorado State University Flint Animal Cancer Center.
"We learned that with the One Cure program, cancer treatment breakthroughs are happening through collaboration between scientists and doctors working with both people and pets," Stewart said. "It perfectly fits with my foundation's missions to help children and animals. Sam Schmidt represents the very best in an injured racer overcoming adversity, plus we share the passion to win at IMS."
The One Cure program will focus on awareness, enthusiasm and understanding of the FACC and their partners in comparative oncology. The Indy 500 will mark one of several initiatives to find potential cures for cancer – in which animals could provide the answer, those involved say .
"Partnering with The Tony Stewart Foundation for Team One Cure provides a strong start to helping many people understand that cancer occurs in pets in a similar rate to humans, and that it occurs naturally," said FACC director Dr. Rodney Page. "Cancer is cancer, so what is learned in pets being treated for cancer holds promise to also benefit people, and vice versa. This approach is known as comparative or translational oncology, and it is the core of the One Cure concept. We hope through this new partnership to help educate more people about comparative oncology and improve the lives of all cancer patients, whether they have two or four legs."
"Very pleased to be participating in the 101st Running of the Indy 500 with such a fantastic program as Team One Cure," noted Sam Schmidt, co-owner of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. "Tony is the most generous guy I know in motorsports, and his charitable efforts on behalf of children and animals in need is unbelievable, so this is a perfect fit. With the team at Colorado State University making such huge strides in cancer research, this will truly be a cause we can get behind. That, combined with both of our extreme desires to win this race, should make for a really competitive entry."
The driver for the Team One Cure No. 77 entry will be announced at a later date.
02-07-2017 05:16 PM
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