Since I am having trouble digesting the Patriots pathetic performance the other night, the miserable season of the Red Sox is now mercifully over, the Celtics should be average at best this year and then their best player breaks his hand “in the shower” and the Bruins seemingly have some issues in shaping the roster just a scant few days before the season opener…well, what better “sport” to talk about than NASCAR to let the other topics simmer for a bit?!
So the Tony Stewart case has been completed and filed and…NOTHING! Listen, no one but Stewart knows if he was trying to intentionally hit Kevin Ward Jr. That much is for sure. But to have the case wrap up as quickly as it did, with absolutely no penalty whatsoever is mystifying. And then to throw out that Ward was under the influence of marijuana, enough to impair his judgement, seems to be adding insult to injury. I’ve said before that Ward was an idiot to be running out to the middle of the track to confront Stewart, even if the cars were under caution and slowing down. But how is it that everyone else saw Ward and avoided him, but Stewart didn’t?
Anyway, when this all went down, I had spoken to an old college friend who used to be a HUGE racing fan…maybe the only one at school. We’re talking about a guy who was all depressed about a rookie driver (Rob Moroso, and yes, I had to ask him what the name was) that was killed in 1990, not at the track, but in a drunk driving incident. And he didn’t even like him! Just thought he had a promising future. We’re also talking about a guy who had a quilt on his bed in his dorm room, made by his Mom, that included fabric pieces autographed by various celebrities including a few NASCAR drivers. His Mom mailed fabric pieces to these guys and they signed them and mailed them back. Pretty impressive for his Mom to do, I have to add. Kudos to her. Anyway, Dale Earnhardt was on it, along with his favorite driver, Phil Parsons (WHO?? Sort of a scrub driver, he says). He used to get really upset when anyone even sat on it. I mean…REALLY upset. Was hard to fathom his anger, since a) it was college, b) it was only a quilt and c) only the Good Lord knows what his roommate was doing to it. But I digress and needless to say, the dude is a credible NASCAR source, no question about it.
We had a little back and forth about the Stewart thing, outlined below:
BB (Billerica Blowhard): Flat out, do you think Tony Stewart hit Kevin Ward Jr. on purpose?
CQG (College Quilt Guy): My gut is that Tony was trying to send the kid a message by buzzing him as he went by. I don’t agree with people saying Tony didn’t see him. I think he saw him – as Tony came back around, his car was a lane higher than the car in front of him and I don’t think his view was obstructed.
BB: What are your personal feelings toward Stewart as a fan? Primarily before this incident?
CQG: He’s been my favorite driver over the last 10+ years. But he definitely has an “I’ll show him” edge to him. The accident happened because Tony ran this young driver up to the wall, basically being a hardass on the racetrack and putting the less experienced driver in a bad spot. That’s Tony. That’s how he is.
BB: Why do you say, “That’s how he is”? Can we look back in the past and see some similar type of behavior?
CQG: Hell, Tony himself got out of a wrecked car in ’98 or ’99 and walked on the track waiting for the offending driver to come around. He’s not above it. He likes to be the top dog and after the wreck this time, I don’t think he wanted to let this guy (Ward) show him up with the pointing and yelling. So he buzzed him.
BB: Final thoughts?
CQG: Obviously I don’t know what Tony saw. In all seriousness, there’s no way to know what he saw unless he tells someone the truth. The truth may indeed be that he didn’t see the guy. I just find that hard to believe and I think he misjudged the situation very badly. Though I absolutely do believe Tony had no intent of any physical harm.
There you have it. I feel the same way. But since my credentials for talking about racing are nonexistent, I had to ask an expert. I have to believe a lot of people feel the same way as well. That leaves me totally befuddled that Stewart is facing basically zero penalty for his actions. Maybe he pays some sort of financial settlement in a civil case, I don’t know. But what does that do? Especially after it seems as if Ward’s name has been dragged through the mud a bit with the marijuana facts?
I get that intent would be hard to prove. I get that Ward went out onto the track into traffic and kind of set himself up. I get that racing is a dangerous sport. I get that Tony has had a tough time dealing with this, as several articles have stated recently. I get the whole thing. But it seems to me that everyone involved, save the Ward family, want to sweep this under the rug as fast as possible. Get a big name back on the track. Get lots of dough rolling in for the sponsors. Something’s leaving a bad taste in my mouth about this…and again, I am not even a racing fan. But in the end, it’s all about the money, right?