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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

When Drivers go Wild

Sunday’s race at Pocono should have been sponsored by Xerox. Denny Hamlin dominated, Kurt Busch took second and the majority of the racing was tame. The same basic race six weeks prior.

The one factor sparing millions of naps, not to mention ratings, was Tony Stewart. His “schooling” of young racers Clint Bowyer and Carl Edwards was the one piece of excitement in a boring race.

Last year Stewart had fewer on-track incidents and won the Championship in a dominant season. Everyone noted his mellow demeanor and how it contributed to a smooth season. This year is obviously different.

Through 20 races Stewart has had skirmishes with Kyle Busch (Daytona, Las Vegas), Matt Kenseth (Daytona, Lowe’s), Boris Said (Sonoma), Ryan Newman (New Hampshire), Carl Edwards (Pocono) and Clint Bowyer (Pocono). With a road course and two short tracks left before the Chase, there’s still plenty of time for your favorite driver to tangle with Tony.

Stewart’s post-race comments implied he was providing a service to NASCAR. “All of a sudden these that are one and two year drivers that think they know everything about Cup racing. They've got a lot to learn”

And here is the problem. It is not up to Stewart, or any driver to dole out Law & Order during a race. If he wants to talk to drivers after the race, fine. During a race, especially at high-speed racetracks like Pocono, Daytona and Chicago, it is plain dangerous.

Just because the cars are safer than ever, should not give free reign to bumping. It’s ironic that rookies and young drivers usually get blamed for impatience on track. Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch not only veterans, but Champions, have all taken out cars on speedways.

Stewart justifying his actions towards Bowyer as teaching a lesson does not fly. He takes out Bowyer and also the innocent Carl Edwards. Stewart should know better. He was on the receiving end two years ago at New Hampshire. Robby Gordon took revenge on Greg Biffle, collecting in the Chase eligible Stewart and severely stunting his title hopes. As a veteran he should know better.