This past week has brought the Tony Stewart defenders out in force. Between his dust-up (punting) of Brian Scott and his on-track pugilism with Ryan Newman, Stewart has been an interesting presence for the past couple weeks. Matt McLaughlin covered the story, and the goal here is not to rehash it. This also won’t be a place to try to give some kind of pop psychology analysis regarding Stewart’s mentality.
Instead, the focus here is on the foolishness Stewart is showing with regard to his ongoing legal battle with the parents of Kevin Ward. While Stewart escaped criminal punishment, he is still embroiled in the civil case. In a civil case, the matter is decided by the notion of preponderance of evidence as compared to a criminal case where the concept of reasonable doubt is in play.
As such, the past two weeks are sure to play into the hands of the plaintiffs’ lawyer. The two incidents with Stewart serve as the very evidence that Stewart may indeed be a hothead and may lose his proverbial mind. While the on-track affairs have been one thing, it is, perhaps, the interview after the Richmond race that may be quite damning.
It is then that Stewart confirmed Newman’s claim that Stewart wrecked him. Seems maybe that Newman left Stewart-Haas Racing on bad terms. Regardless, there’s one big thing at play here.
Stewart did not talk to the TV crew directly after the fracas. Instead, he took time and then spoke at the race’s conclusion. One would think that someone in the PR department may have used that gap in time to have a sit-down with Stewart and maybe go over how he should present himself in the interview. And if a sit-down did in fact happen and this is how Stewart presented himself, then whoa.
The Stewart story is one that won’t go away. He’s a rare talent and a polarizing person. Watching all of this play out from a distance is must-watch TV. Then again, it’s funny what we all watch sometimes.
Happiness Is…Chase. From the first race of the NASCAR season, the Chase becomes a dominant theme. In some ways, it’s exhausting. The commentary focuses on who has made the Chase, who is likely to be in the Chase, who might miss the Chase, who is Chase worthy, who would be a surprise driver to make the Chase and so on. Chase Chase Chase Chase Chase. Well guess what? The Chase is actually going to happen now!
It’s been 26 weeks and Chicagoland will finally get things started. That the Chase holds such sway over how things are covered shows that, in some ways, it has become a focal point and attracted the attention that Brian Z. France and cohorts had intended. While many fans may still abhor this method for determining a champion, they seem to be howling in the wind as the Chase does not look like it will be going anywhere anytime soon. The structure may be flawed but it is what we’ve all got at the moment, so let’s finally get this thing going.
Happiness Is…Clarity. NASCAR let it be known that drivers in the Chase will have their own penalty system during the playoffs. (Chad Knaus is probably already looking for a loop-hole.) Of course, the overall reason for the rules is to ensure that the teams are competing on a level racetrack, but NASCAR is now adjusting things so that a car that wins but fails inspection does not enjoy the benefits of the victory – which is to say that car does not automatically advance to the next round of the playoffs.
The interesting thing here is that NASCAR has further divided the field between the 16 cars in the Chase and the 24 who are not. Those in the Chase now have their own points system as well as their own structure for penalties. This continued division between the two groups makes one wonder just how long will it be until the races during the Chase feature just those 16 cars on track? Maybe there’ll be Cup Race A for the one group and then the headlining second Cup Race B with the championship contenders. For now we’ll just have to enjoy the other 24 cars clogging up the track and making things difficult.
Happiness Is…Champion. Judging by the numbers, many of you have not been following IndyCar much this season. The 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 may have gotten some spectators and viewers but aside from that marquis event, the series still lacks a large fanbase. That’s a little too bad considering the show that they frequently give. This weekend marks the culmination of the season with Simon Pagenaud looking to clinch his first championship after leading the points from the second race onward.
Though Alexander Rossi may have been the big story of the year, owing to his win at Indy, Will Power’s story should be a close second. After missing the first race of the year due to a misdiagnosed concussion, it is Power, Pagenaud’s teammate, that is the closest challenger to taking the big trophy – though statistically it is doubtful. Regardless, at least throw some love to IndyCar during the commercials of the Cup race for what should be an interesting finale.
About the author
As a writer and editor, Ava anchors the Formula 1 coverage for the site, while working through many of its biggest columns. Ava earned a Masters in Sports Studies at UGA and a PhD in American Studies from UH-Mānoa. Her dissertation Chased Women, NASCAR Dads, and Southern Inhospitality: How NASCAR Exports The South is in the process of becoming a book.