It’s Fontana Baby – Part II – Transcribed
Fontana California – March 24, 2013 Sprint Cup Auto Club 400
Anyone who thought the Gen6 cars were boring, didn’t watch the Nascar race at Fontana. The entire day was entertaining, with battles up front and back in the pack. But nothing like the final 10 laps.
After a late race caution, the last restart began with 11 laps to go. Kyle Busch was leading, Joey was 2nd followed by Tony, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth was 10th. The green flag flew and Joey didn’t get a very good restart. Tony was up on his bumper right away dropping to the inside line to make the pass.
Joey says he dropped down to protect his position and go for the win. Tony appears to race him clean, move down and try again. But once again Joey makes the block. In doing so, you can see on Tony’s in car camera that contact was made. It appears now that the contact cut a tire on the #14 Mobil 1 Chevy and Tony began dropping back like a rock. He finished 23rd. Joey finished 3rd.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind here before we continue. Remember this:
RT @MartySmithESPN: For those asking: In June 2011, Tony Stewart said: “If you block me, I will dump you.” That happened at Sonoma California.
Also remember that Tony is a team owner now. He doesn’t have Coach Gibbs standing with him, pulling him aside and away from reporters to cool down first. That means reporters are going to catch him when his emotions and adrenaline are in full swing. As only Tony can be. Frankly it’s one of the things that I’ve always liked about him. His raw emotion and passion for what he does. He says it like it is and how he feels. Any race reporter will tell you about that. Or simply read the previous articles here on our blog about his interviews.
Now some have brought up Tony’s action of blocking final few laps at Talladega Superspeedway that failed and took out the entire field. (SBNation video & story by Jeff Gluck). Yep, I remember that too. Was that block some how different than this one? I don’t know. The argument could be made that yes it was, but no matter what the position or which side your on that could also be no.
Let’s back up first and talk about the after race interviews. First Fox race reporter Steve Burns caught up with Tony after the race. As best as I can tell from the replay, here’s a transcript of that interview.
Burns: “Tony what angered you at the end of the race? What did you take issue with?”
Tony: “What the hell do you think I was mad about? The dumb little shit runs us clear down into the infield. He wants to bitch about everybody else. And he’s the one who drives like a little prick. I’m gonna bust his ass.”
Burns: “Thanks Tony.”
Tony: “Thank you!”
After the Fox broadcast we switched over to Victory Lane on Speed where the fray continued. By this time, Tony had made his wardrobe change and it appears he’s standing outside his motor home. Again he’s surrounded by reporters, but this time the immediate anger had subsided. He’s still angry, but it’s evident by his tone of voice that he has calmed down a fair bit. This time we go to Bob Dillner.
Tony: “Well Joey spun the tires on the restart. Everybody had trouble with that. You know it is not my fault that he spun the tires. For a guy that’s been complaining about how everybody else is driving here and then him to do that, it’s a double standard. You know he makes the choice. He makes the decision to run us down there and when you run a driver down there you take responsibility for what happens after that. He’s a tough guy on pit road once one of his pit guys gets in the middle of it. Until then he’s a scared little kid. And then he wants to sit there and throw a water bottle at me. So he’s gonna learn a lesson. He can run his mouth all he wants on Twitter and stuff all he wants tonight, I got plenty of people who are gonna watch for that. But it’s time he learns a lesson. He’s run his mouth long enough, he’s sat there and done this double standard and he’s nothing but this little rich kid that’s never had to work in his life. So he’s gonna learn from us working guys who had to work our way up how it works.”
Dillner then gets Joey’s side:
Joey: “I was on the restart there with the 18 car and he was spinning his tires. The rule there is, Nascar’s rule is you can’t beat the leader to the Start/Finish line. So I was actually peddling at half throttle. Which gave the #14 the run to get underneath me and that point I blocked. And that’s what Tony’s upset about. I understand that’s what he’s upset about that. If that was at any other point in the race, that would really be dumb for me to do. The end of the race I feel like it’s what I “had” to do. At the end of the race, I felt if I got three wide that was going to be the end of my race, I wasn’t going to win the race anymore. So I feel like I did what I had to do there to keep myself in position. I understand that frustrated him and made him angry and I ran him down on the flat. And I’ll talk to him about that.”
Back to Tony:
“He still takes the responsibility on himself. He has that right, he has that choice to do that. He’s in control of his car. But if he ever turns down across in front of me again. I don’t care what lap it is, he wont make it out the other end of it. If I didn’t hit the chip he wouldn’t have made it through turn 1 to begin with. I’m tired of these guys doing that stuff. And especially out of a kid who’s been gripping about everybody else and then he does that the next week. I mean he’s sent Denny to the hospital and screwed our day up. He’s talked the talk, but he doesn’t walk the walk yet. He’s always got his crew guys walking the walk for him.
Burns: “He said he’s wants to call you this week. Will you accept that phone call?”
Tony: “Hell no. If he wants to talk about it, we’ll talk about it. After he threw the water bottle at me like a little girl. We’ll go at now. I’m not going to listen. I got nothing, I don’t care what he has to say, it’s just words right now Actions speak louder than words.”
– “hit the chip” means his engine hit the rev-chip.
After the interviews, Kasey Kahne tweeted:
@kaseykahne: “Just listened to an awesome interview by Tony Stewart. I think he said it all!”
On Speed Center, Sam Hornish Jr. seemed to side with Tony on this issue. Many people got after him for not standing up for his team-mate Joey Logano. Hornish Jr. responded that if he felt Joey was in the right, he would have stood up for him. But in this case, he didn’t seem to agree.
During the reply from inside Smoke’s car, Sam gives his commentary..
Sam: “Tony had a good run. Joey spun his tires just a little bit. Tony can’t knowingly just run in there on the white line because he knows Joey’s already not gave him that much room. So he doesn’t want to wreck the front part of the field. But he expects a little bit of room.”
After replaying the Victory Lane interviews of both Tony and Joey, Speed Center host Adam Alexander asks Sam “What’s your take on it?”
Sam: “[Joey’s] Not the most popular driver amongst the rest of the drivers. Joey’s going to go out there and he’s going to race hard. And there’s a lot of people that are going to say ‘Well Tony would have done the same thing’. But what everybody has to remember is Tony could have just turned Joey dead left there, right at the beginning of that and had it all over with. But Tony thought he was eventually going to give him room, he just kept walking him down the track. I can understand why he’s mad. It’s coming down to the end of the race, Joey said ‘well that was going to ruin my race by letting him beside there.’ And Tony says ‘well that ruined my race by you doing that to me.’ So they both can probably see it from each others eyes a little bit. But Tony is very frustrated with the way he feels he’s been treated.”
Here is where I think people are missing the point. Tony’s comments weren’t about the initial block. He was angry about Joey running him down on the flat, making the block and then running him down again when Tony moved down again and had the lane. You can see in the replay of Tony’s in-car camera that Tony did indeed get to the inside of Joey. But Joey again tried the block, but this time…since he didn’t have the lane..he gets into Tony and that collision was the bigger issue. Joey’s 2nd block..as we find out later..cut Tony’s tire.
After a break and a review of the Nationwide Race on Saturday. Sam Hornish Jr is on top of the point standings there. Alexander brings the coverage back for sound bites from other drivers. But he brings the conversation back to Denny and Joey at the upcoming Martinsville race in Virginia.
Sam: “It’s a good thing for everybody to collect their thoughts [by having a week off]…A lot of people are giving me a hard time about not sticking up for my team-mate. (Both Sam and Joey drive for Penske Racing). Joey was racing hard. The thing I’ll look at is, I’ll stick up for Joey when I think something’s been done wrong to him. And I’ll also say it the other way if I don’t. I think there was a lot of really hard racing going on. I’m not going to say one person did something to the other. They were both trying to win the race and they were both racing hard.”
Joey is 10th in points and Tony is struggling. He’s currently 22nd in points after this race in Fontana. He’s up two spots in points from last weekend. But knowing a top 5 finish and possibly going for the win may have provided him a greater jump to the top 10.