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Minter: Stewart Is On A Media Room Tear

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, March 20 2010

Tony Stewart is back in an anti-media mood these days. (RacinToday file photo by Tony Bush)

By Rick Minter | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Bristol, Tenn. – Tony Stewart, the driver who seems to have interpreted NASCAR’s directive to “Have at it” as instructions to launch a season-long string of insults aimed at the print media, was back at it on Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Quite ironically, the one reporter he seemed to have any use for was a local guy. This was the same Stewart who at Bristol a few years back insulted veteran writer Larry Woody, then of the Nashville Tennessean and one of the most respected in his profession, by responding to a plenty relevant question by saying: “You must be local.”

It could have been argued back then that Stewart’s behavior was due to him being inexperienced and not aware of the role the media plays in the grand scheme of NASCAR things. That’s no longer a valid excuse, but there is no excuse for the way Stewart acts in the press room.

This year, Stewart rarely misses a chance to insult the reporters in the press room. On several occasions his insults have been broadcast on TV.

He rants regularly about “stupid questions” and sometimes calls the questioners “stupid.” He often dodges even the most basic questions, the same questions that other drivers willingly and thoughtfully answer.

I was beginning to think my peers enjoyed the insults until I read a blog by veteran journalist Monte Dutton, who once wrote the book on Stewart – literally.

Here’s how Monte’s blog from Bristol began: “Tony Stewart is on a tear. He’s red hot. He’s picking ‘em up and laying ‘em down. He can’t be stopped.

“Is this on the track? Oh, no. He hasn’t finished better than seventh yet. This is in the media center, where Stewart has done everything he can possibly do to insult the press except lob a grenade.”

From all indications, the only reason Stewart even shows up in the press room is because NASCAR’s protocol for race weekends has the top 12 drivers in the points standings make a brief appearance each week. Most weeks, there are 11 guys who seem to appreciate and even enjoy the 10-minute exchanges.

Two newcomers to the routine, Scott Speed and Paul Menard, appeared to relish their new roles.

That was in stark contrasts to Stewart’s insults, which are totally out of place in a sport trying to regain lost TV viewership and fill empty grandstand seats. Even Bristol, which has seen Cup races sell out for years, is expecting the sell-out string to end on Sunday even with the added interest from the Carl Edwards-Brad Keselowski feud.

Maybe it’s time for the media to tell Tony no thanks, and for reporters to spend their limited time with drivers who show up with the intention of playing the game as it should be played.

Monte Dutton’s closing words are worth repeating as well. This is how he ended his piece: “Stewart’s just doing this for sport. He’s saying, hey, watch while I torch these losers.

“But the losers have torches, too.”

Hopefully there will be more like Monte who are bold enough to stand up and tell it just like it is.

– Rick Minter can be reached at rminter@racintoday.com

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, March 20 2010
9 Comments

9 Comments »

  • Carolyn Oster says:

    I think some of the questions the media keeps asking would get on my nerves too – I think Tony just gets tired of answering such mundane questions all the time – he is interviewed all the time and asked the same thing. I think he made it perfectly clear that he was worried about getting his car better – not sitting in a media room – he would rather be doing his job – racing that is what we pay to see.

  • Jackie Stitt says:

    Get over it!!! We have more importaint things to worry about in NASCAR. At least Tony Stewart is a real man and speaks his mind about the sport and doesn’t candy coat it like the other drivers do for NASCAR and the media!!!!!

  • Richard in N.C. says:

    The excessive and highly negative coverage devoted to Dale, Jr.’s radio talk with his crew chief might explain why many in the media are not held in high regard in the garage. At the same time, Tony should be polite. Whatever brain-dead media member came up with the demand to “Talk about” XYZ needs to be neutered.

  • lydia says:

    Well maybe this ownership deal is putting more pressure on Stewart then we know. Maybe the fact he is so tight with his time nowadays has made the endless … and let’s face it..sometimes silly questions just more unbearable then ever for Stewart. If you watch an interview session weekly..they are quite painful…does the media ever watch them? I mean come on guys…I know the answers to alot of the questions asked weekly….over and over and over and over….Maybe some more thought and different directions with the questions might be in order. And Menard and Speed…of course they are going to be thrilled….this is the first time they have been in a position to go to the media events. Hey..by making Stewart cranky you got a column out of it….so there you go!

  • Wade Baker says:

    I remember quite a few years ago when Tony ridiculed Darrel Waltrip on national television.

    Apparently he hasn’t changed.

    He’s going to regret such behavior one day.

    • lydia says:

      Wade…Stewart did insult Waltrip…but it was a matter of them “trading insults”..Waltrip got alittle too big for his “big boy commentator pants” and had decided he could say whatever he felt to or about Stewart..and Stewart had enough…it was a comment I would think Stewart regretted…and Waltrip should have been ashamed of himself for taking all the liberties he did with his running criticisms of Stewart..but they have more then made up with each other. Waltrip likes to get in everyone’s business while he’s in the announcer’s chair..and he shouldn’t have kept messin’ with Stewart. Waltrip should know if you’re going to publicly blab your endless opinions…you may get a few “opinions” right back at you ….

    • Jack Harrington says:

      Don’t hold your breath…You may not catch it…EVER

  • Tammy Brewington says:

    Monte’s piece was great! As is yours. I really thought Tony had mellowed out, but I guess not, at least towards the media. I really don’t understand it since media is what helps propel their sponsors names out there more and more. Without media, who would even know who these cats are? Jeez….