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Friday, August 29, 2008

Stewart lets out rare dose of lurid honesty in Rolling Stone interview

Rarely in today’s NASCAR do drivers give truly candid interviews or offer any the media any true insight into their real lives. Everything usually sounds processed and is basically a string of sound bites.

But Tony Stewart recently allowed a reporter from Rolling Stone to follow him around for a while and offered a rare glimpse into how he talks and acts, and it wasn’t all rated PG. Let’s just say that the question of why Tony Stewart isn’t married has been answered.

Among the highlights (and I’ll try to keep it clean):
-- Talk of promiscuity of a level not discussed openly in NASCAR since Tim Richmond’s days, including a joke that Stewart’s parents are worried his genitals are going to fall off.

-- Discussion of “pit lizards” who stroll the garage each week trying to get close to drivers.

-- A healthy dose of swearing, which is nothing new to NASCAR, but usually isn’t displayed publicly (beyond the scanners during a race) and is generally frowned on by the sport

-- Serious trash talking about Kurt Busch, who Tony apparently still can’t stand after their Daytona incident this year

As a journalist, I love the article because it’s one of those rare interview pieces that lets you inside a person’s head. In addition to the lurid parts, it gives the reader a good look at how much Stewart really cares about winning and shows the playful, whimsical side of Tony around his friends that he doesn’t really show to the media very often.

And as someone who’s always applauded Stewart for not being a robot like so many other drivers, I applaud him for being daring enough to fully display his personality and lifestyle (even if it may be a little exaggerated for show) in a prominent magazine article.

But NASCAR -- which still tries to market their sport as family-friendly and full of decent, religious people who do the right thing, a long way from its bootlegger origins -- can’t be happy with this article. They’ve had their issues with Tony in the past, and while I don’t think they can do anything about a magazine article, deep down they probably want to put a muzzle on Tony.

But they can’t, and that’s a great thing. Stewart is moving on to his own team next year, which probably helped motivate him to do the article. Joe Gibbs is known for his religious devotion, and I doubt he’s happy with the words that came out of Stewart’s mouth in this interview. If Stewart wasn’t leaving, I doubt he would have been so candid in this interview.

Stewart is feeling free now that the next chapter in his career is about to start and has no one to answer to now that he’s the boss. I expect Tony to be even more open and honest about his feelings in the coming years, as he won’t have to worry about what Gibbs might say.

Anyway, it’s a good read, so I advise all Tony Stewart lovers and haters to check it out. (adults only, of course).

It may be the only dose of true honesty you get from a NASCAR interview all season.

California predictions
Look for Carl Edwards to take his third straight victory this Sunday at California. He’s on a hot streak so I’m not going to bet against him. Jimmie Johnson may give him a challenge, but Edwards should come out on top (barring a payback bump from Kyle Busch).

Kasey Kahne and David Ragan are getting desperate, as the Chase is only two races away, so look for them to do everything they can to get strong finishes and try to jump into that top 12. At the same time, people on the Chase bubble will do all they can to protect their positions. Mix that all up and it should be a pretty good race.


Anonymous Dan Kane said...

Hey Matt, I sorta wondered how many times a week Stewart "prayed" with Gibbs. The Rolling Stone thing answered that question. And even though I have an enormous amount of respect for Joe Gibbs, his career, his sons, and what he stands for, you have to wonder if he "prays" weekly with Kurt Busch and Denny Hamilin. I can't imagine those guys in Sunday School much.

All too often in NASCAR Christians wear their beliefs on their sleeve. DW does it the most. I have been there--in the garage area some years ago when Christ was the furtherest thing from his mind. That's why he is in the booth today because he didn't have too many thoughts outside of beating on the back bumper of Dale Earnhardt. If he wants to pray now, that's fine--to each his own. But back then the only god he prayed to was the god of gas-n-go -- or maybe to Junior Johnson.

So let Tony be Tony. I have often said I don't know who uses up whom the most in this Tony Stewart saga the last 10 years -- the media or Tony. At times the media could bait him and he would bite quicker than a rattlesnake. Recently he has his media sea legs and he has been baiting the media more than they have him. I sorta think this Rolling Stone thing was something like that. Maybe he wanted to get back at Mike Helton and Jim Hunter, or maybe even Bryan Z. I'll take an example even Tony used in that article: you know when in school you got a guy that always and forever has to have the last word? That's Tony. That's him made over. That is indeed a large part of why he is a winner in the car, but that is a large part of why he is generally miserable to be around. Oh, I know I know, he is sweet to the little children and by god he should be. But I wouldn't want to marry him, even if I were the right sex. He should stay single the rest of his life and also go childless...That's a hoot, think of Tony Stewart as a parent? His kid would be like Paris Hilton, Son of Sam, and David Duchovny combined.

Oh and by the way, remember when you said Logano and Home Depot wouldn't be the best marriage?

August 30, 2008 at 7:03 AM 
Blogger Matt Myftiu said...

I don't know, Dan. Maybe a Tony Stewart offspring would be a good thing. If it's a boy, he may grow up to be the next version of his dad and spice up the sport in about two decades.

And as far as Tony's relationship with the media, it's definitely been one of the most interesting in the garage area in the past couple decades.


August 30, 2008 at 9:21 AM 
Anonymous Dane Kane said...

In my prior post I did mean to say Kyle Busch obviously...And maybe you are right Matt, a Tony Stewart offspring could be an AJ Foyt IX or something like that and spice it up...or maybe if it is a girl she would be like Janis Joplin on pizza and doughnuts instead of drugs and rocknroll (maybe the sex though).

And by the way what about that fitness program Tony was on? Can't you just see it? Tony decides to get fit and he pays this guy $80k or more a year to walk around and tell Tony "no." No pizza, no Big Macs, no shakes, no doughnuts, no hot dogs, no sausage and eggs, no bon-bons...well you get the picture. And one day Tony wakes up and he is fit and trim and he does a David Duchovny and can't resist the pizza and then this guy--a guy he pays $80k a year to hound him, says "no." And Tony says to himself, 'WTF, I have won 30 races and two Cup championships by being chubby, what in the hell do I need this guy for?' I hope that guy got employed again.

In some ways Tony reminds me of Tim Richmond both in driving skill and build. Only as far as I can tell, and according to the women I was around in the garage area back in the day, Tim was better looking than Tony. But Tim went through a period of puttin on weight--all that sushi and caviar and wine and beer and steaks (Tim never ate at the Columbus, IN Dairy Queen) put a bulge on Tim. But he took it off and kept it off. Then again...

August 30, 2008 at 11:40 AM 

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