On Sunday night I was perusing NASCAR.COM as I often do- looking to see if there was any important breaking news or discussions. Since it was an “off” weekend for the cup drivers- I hadn’t really been paying attention over the weekend- except to know that Kyle won the truck race and Carl the Nationwide race. That’s it- so I was lingering about when a headline caught my eye on the main page mostly because it was under a picture of Tony Stewart. It said something to the effect of: Third Title Could Make Stewart One Of The Best. Of course I clicked the link…and it was actually a link to a piece by David Caraviello who contends that should Tony Stewart win a third championship he would be among the “greats” in the sport.
Well, I had to butt in here with my opinion of course, and I know you all know where I am going with it. Yeah…he already IS in my fan-biased eyes. So he may not have more than two championships in Cup racing (yet! I have faith more will come) and he may not have as many wins as Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson, so strict number crunching may not have him up near the top of the list as a “GREAT” in the sport. But I honestly feel that being “a great” is more than just extrapolating some data and throwing it neatly into a nice little chart. But if you do want to play that numbers game take this into consideration: he does have championships (and along with championships comes wins) in other series to consider (IROC, IRL, USAC and USAC Triple Crown).
Then of course there is the little venture Tony Stewart took on this year called team ownership. I have heard and read things discrediting Tony’s team ownership for a couple reasons . The two major ones seem to be because a.) Tony grabbed an established team. and b.) Stewart-Haas Racing has assistance from Hendrick Motorsport in that they get their engines and chassis (Is there a plural form of chassis? Is it chassi, like octopi?) from the iconic team. To these naysayers I give a big hearty virtual raspberry to. Stewart-Haas racing, in it’s former format (Haas CNC), if I remember correctly, did not have any top ten finishes at all in the entire run of the organization. Nor did it ever have a car that ever at any point was ever even in the chase let alone one leading the points and the other poised to make the chase providing the stars and planets don’t line up against him. And the partnership with Hendrick Motorsports? It was a preexisting partnership. It was there BEFORE Tony Stewart signed on the dotted the line. Why weren’t people all up-in-arms before calling them a Hendrick Farm Team (or as my BFF called them: HMS-Lite). I think even a casual observer with no vested interest or bias (I am of the biased) would see that bringing Tony on board obviously did SOMETHING (and for the record the aforementioned David Caraviello piece tends to agree with me on this). Tony Stewart may be self-depreciating when it comes to his “smarts” but the man is definitely not stupid. He is an accomplished team owner in the USAC series already- and I won’t even mention his myriad of other business ventures.
[insert virtual raspberry here]
Also Tony Stewart (along with many many other drivers in the sport) gives back to his community and causes near and dear to his heart through his foundation. Not to mention that on top of that has been working with his sponsor’s foundation to give backpacks of school supplies to needy children. I could go on and on and talk about all the great things the Tony Stewart Foundation does- but all you really need to do it drop by the Foundation website and you can see for yourself.
So yeah- I think Tony Stewart is already part of the list of people considered the “greatest” in the sport- even if he never gets that third championship (or fourth or fifth- hey I am a fan after all- I can dream). And yes I am a fan (prior to his change in teams- a favorite saying of mine is that “I am such a Tony Stewart fan that I bleed orange” of course that doesn’t work as well with his new color) so I am probably extremely biased in this opinion. Nothing will really change that, just like nothing will change where I go with this website. I will always talk NASCAR. And my faithful couple of readers will always get to hear my views from my biased (fan) fingers. And there will always be pictures of my dog and my nephew and who knows what else peppered in with my Tony Stewart ravings.