Now that we are a few races into the 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup season, I’ve got to take a few minutes to comment on Tony Stewart’s season so far. After the Bud Shootout, Smoke (Tony) was pressed to comment on the bump drafting that had taken place in the non-points race in which he’d just finished second. Despite the fact that he had (repeatedly) bumped his teammate Denny Hamlin to victory, Smoke made the flippant comment that someone was going to get killed at Daytona and he hoped it wasn’t him or Dale Jr. (who’s father had died at the track exactly 5 years earlier). Having made the (purposely dramatic and probably not carefully considered) statement on live TV, he apparently then felt obligated to take the matter to NASCAR and ask that they do something about the “out of control” bumping. Whether NASCAR actually felt the need to step in or whether the reigning champion having made a public comment regarding the matter pressured them, NASCAR swiftly announced “no bumping zones” for the Duels and the Daytona 500 the upcoming weekend.
Apparently Tony didn’t think the new rules were all that important, because late in the 500 Tony let his emotions get the better of him and purposely ran Matt Kennseth off of the track at 190 MPH. Lucky for both of them, Matt was able to avoid getting hit by the rest of the field as he slid in front of them in turn 1. When interviewed after the race, Tony flatly stated that Matt had deserved what he got. So much for Smoke’s concern about someone getting killed due to aggressive driving.
Then a few weeks later at Las Vegas, we hear Tony crying about how Kyle Busch didn’t pull over and let Tony pass him during the race. Apparently Tony thinks that if he doesn’t have a car capable of passing on its own that there should be some rule that forces other drivers to let the reigning champion pass them anyway. By the way, Kyle finished 3rd and Smoke finished 21st.