Tony Stewart unlike any other Cup owner

January, 18, 2011

Several of you have suggested in the past 48 hours that Tony Stewart is the only Sprint Cup team owner in NASCAR who would allow himself to get involved in a fight like the one that reportedly occurred Saturday in Australia.

You're right.

Rick Hendrick wouldn't get into a physical confrontation with a track owner as Stewart reportedly did with Sydney Speedway co-owner Brett Morris over track conditions. Joe Gibbs certainly wouldn't. Neither would Jack Roush, Richard Childress or Michael Waltrip.

But none of those other owners still climbs behind the wheel of a race car -- whether it's a Cup car in which Stewart is a two-time champion or a sprint car like the one that took Stewart to Australia -- on a weekly basis.

Stewart does. He's constantly dealing with the heated emotions one faces on the track, the anger that will make a relatively level-headed driver such as Jeff Gordon go after an equally level-headed driver such as Jeff Burton, as occurred last season at Texas Motor Speedway.

So although many of you were outraged that Stewart reportedly lost his cool Down Under, you shouldn't be surprised if the media reports are true.

Maybe you simply were lulled into believing that Stewart had mellowed, as many of us wrote -- guilty as charged -- since he took over Stewart-Haas Racing after the 2008 season. In truth, there still are two Stewarts, as there always have been: the owner who can charm the money out of a sponsor and the competitor who can lose his cool in the heat of the moment.

Stewart's list of off-track incidents as a driver is longer than most. There was the 2002 shoving of a photographer at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the 2008 shoving of a USAC official at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis, to name a couple. Goodyear officials have left many a track feeling they've had Stewart's footprint on their backsides over tire issues.

What happened in Australia isn't much different other than that this one reportedly got Stewart a black eye after he allegedly hit Morris in the face with a racing helmet. No charges were filed.

Stewart fans will think this is great, that he'll channel this anger into the 2011 Cup championship.

Stewart haters will think this is inexcusable.

If all happened as reports indicate they did, it is simply Stewart being Stewart.

You're right. Stewart isn't like other owners. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

David Newton | email

ESPN Staff Writer


You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?