Sunday, August 11, 2013

Stewart tags Papis to drive his car at the Glen today

With his leg broken and probably out for the rest of this season, Tony Stewart has nabbed Max Papis to drive his car at Watkins Glen today. Who Tony puts in his car for the balance of the season is still up for grabs I think. My choice would be Elliot Sadler, but I'm not sure he could be pried out of his Nationwide team.

There's been a lot of criticism of Stewart since the wreck, coming from drivers like Kurt Busch (not known for making great decisions himself) and Carl Edwards (still smarting from Stewart running over him to win the Championship two years ago). Today in the Tampa Bay Times, local sports tool Tom Jones added his two cents.

Jones' bitch made it sound like Stewart was on some self-aggrandizement trip, racing in "...piddly little races against drivers who aren't nearly as talented as the ones he faces on weekends." That stunning indictment from a guy who thought the cars in NASCAR were air conditioned. Talk about speaking from ignorance.

Stewart is a throw-back racer -- he just wants to be behind the wheel all the time. He carries that pot belly and double chin with a sly smirk. Tony doesn't care that he won't be on the cover of Men's Fitness in bike shorts and no shirt like teefs Edwards -- he's here to race and have fun and win. Tony loves the small track stuff and despite NASCAR's "Hometracks" initiative, I'd wager that Stewart drives more eyes and needed money to small tracks than anyone else in the sport.

An uninformed writer like Jones wouldn't know this, but back in the day, A.J. Foyt used to drive sprint cars the day before Indy each year. He said it loosened him up and got him ready to go for the big race. Not surprisingly, it is Foyt's old number 14 on Stewart's car in NASCAR, and Foyt happily allowed his kindred spirit to bring the number out of retirement.

In fact, Foyt was one of the first to back Stewart in the early backlash after the accident:
"He ain't no prima donna and life is short, and we don't know how we are going to die or what's going to happen," Foyt told the Los Angeles Times. "I just hate to see anybody badmouth Tony for anything he's doing."

Finally, others have become more vocal in support of Stewart. Teammates Danica Patrick and Ryan Newman both defended Tony. As well as Jimmie Johnson, Dale Jr., and Jeff Gordon.

These guys are in one of the most dangerous sports on the planet. You can't just bubble-wrap them six days a week, then turn them loose for Sunday. Like Newman said, Tony's plane could crash on the way to a race just as easily. And as Danica pointed out, this might bring more attention to safety issues in sprint car, which would be a good thing for everyone.

Bottom line is the guy is living his life his way . . . we should all be so lucky.

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