All I can say is wow. I was able to catch most of Kyle’s press conference, along with snippets of Biffle, Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon and all of Tony Stewart’s today thanks to live streaming video (gotta love the internet!!) And wow.
I heard Tony’s statement yesterday (I think it was yesterday) about him talking to Kyle about the incident and that they were on the “same page” regarding the last lap incident at Daytona (don’t know what I am talking about? Click here for video of the last 5 laps). I don’t necessarily know what that page is- but there must be a pretty darn big page break in the middle of it.
Frankly, I was kind of surprised yesterday when Tony made it sound like it was pretty much water under the bridge, these things happen let’s get on with Chicago kind of thing (that wasn’t exactly what Tony said mind you but that is the impression I got) because Saturday night…Kyle LOOKED pissed. And frankly- he probably WAS pissed- especially being in the heat of the moment on a hot evening.
Well today during the media session with Kyle- not only did he look pissed but he sounded pissed. Kyle was asked what could be done about incidents like the one that happened on Saturday at Daytona and he said that “If the second place car purposely dumps the first place car- NASCAR should black flag them and they should definitely not be called the race winner.” Then he was asked by the same reporter (I believe it was Dustin Long) to clarify- did he believe that he was dumped on Saturday to which Kyle definitely responded with an emphatic affirmative.
Fast forward through the media sessions a bit- other drivers have come and gone including Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne- both of whom were asked about their views on the incident and both of whom said they did not believe the incident was on purpose. Tony comes out for his session and starts off by stating straight away that he’s not going to say anything any different than what he said previously- he has spoke with Kyle and they are on the same page. Someone immediately brings up that he probably didn’t hear what Kyle said earlier and he tells them he read the transcript he knows what he said- his statement still stands. The media in the room were mostly respectful in that they didn’t go where clearly Tony didn’t want to go…except for one guy who wanted to ask about Kyle’s stance that in a situation like that a black flag should be given to which Tony answered “I am not going to bite on your lure.” I can’t really blame him. He clearly stated at the beginning of the session that he didn’t want to talk about it anymore.
Now I don’t know what the “same page” is Tony was talking about because seems that Tony is in a different chapter of the book than Kyle is. Does it surprise me? No. Kyle is a young, very aggressive driver. I have been to a race and heard half the track boo the guy. He had a hot season last year. This year he is struggling a little bit (in comparison to last year). It was obvious by hearing Kyle talk today (I am speaking of his comments about Stewart-Haas Racing’s affiliation with Hendrick Motorsports) that he is still a little bitter about being let go from Hendrick Motorsports (and I bet after Kyle’s season last year Rick Hendrick might have been wondering if he made the right move there).
Kyle doesn’t have a yellow stripe on his bumper but he is only 24 years old. I personally think that the younger you are the more likely you are to lash out. The more likely you are to try to fight EVERY battle. I think of where I was when I was 24 years old compared to where I am now personally- I was different. I was more aggressive (where know I tend to refine passive-agressiveness into an art). Best I can figure it, at that age I had just hired on at my job in a permanent basis and just thinking about my attitude towards difficulties on my commute has changed (got to carry the whole cars theme here)…I now don’t get as angry. Someone cuts me off- most days now I will just mutter under my breath and carry on with myself (notice I said MOST days…not ALL). Back then…I would have made sure the driver knew I felt I was “wronged” somehow. People change (I like to think mostly for the better) as they get older.
If you were to compare Kyle to a book, Kyle is still in the preface (and Joey Logano- in case you are wondering- he has barely made it to the Title Page). Tony is probably about a a quarter to a third of the way into the story (I have to say this – cuz Tony’s only a couple years older than me). It’s not too far into the story that Tony doesn’t understand where Kyle is…but he understands a little bit more of the plot.
I actually REALLY like Kyle…and honestly had he won Daytona- I would have been a little disappointed that Tony didn’t win (I am, after all a Tony fan first and foremost) but I would have been glad for Kyle. (I did get to see Kyle win in Vegas this year- and let me tell you that rocked! Seeing him win at his hometown track was awesome). I am still of the stance that this was “one of those racing deals.” I don’t think Kyle expected Tony to be pulled up to his right rear quarter panel as far as he did when he moved right for the block any more than Tony expected Kyle to move up on him. These cars are moving extremely fast and you have to remember the drivers have limited vision in the car (various factors do play into this including lack of side view mirrors and safety restraints- which Kyle and Kasey and Joey should all be very thankful for seeing as they all took hard hits and walked away to play another day).