Home » NASCAR - Sprint Cup Series

Minter: Where’s The Respect, Tony?

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, August 23 2010

Tony Stewart is not a fan of press conferences. (RacinToday file photo by Tony Bush)

By Rick Minter | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Bristol, Tenn. – There are few places in the NASCAR world more friendly to the dwindling print and Internet media corps than Bristol Motor Speedway. Lori Worley and the rest of the staff there seem really to enjoy and appreciate the presence of the people who earn a living dragging a laptop from track to track.

A brand-new media center is a testament to that. But the brick-and-mortar items pale in comparison to the hospitality shown by the track staff.

About the only unpleasant part of a recent trip to Bristol was the media session with Tony Stewart.

Stewart opened his session with a rather rude answer to a plenty fair question about his team’s sponsor search. It set the tone for the rest of the session, which ended with him leaving the podium muttering derogatory remarks about the intelligence level of the people in the room, people who as a whole are as professional, hard-working and fair-minded as I’ve ever been around.

In fairness, the other drivers generally faced much tougher questions than Stewart and answered them professionally and courteously.

Carl Edwards even managed to maintain a sense of decency when pressed about his run-ins this year with Brad Keselowski.

I was particularly interested to see the reaction of my media peers, who travel the circuit more than me these days.

Monte Dutton, who once took lots of grief from his fellow writers for sticking with Stewart when others were bashing him in Stewart’s early NASCAR years, took Stewart to task in several columns and blogs.

Here’s what he wrote on Sunday about how he wished he’d handled matters on Friday.

“If I had it to do over — if I had been in a movie, or going by a script — I would have told Tony what he and most other drivers say about each other.

‘Tony, here in the media center, we race drivers the way they race us.

‘It’s all a matter of respect.’

As the late David Poole might have responded: That’s a heck of a point.

But it seems the disdain for the print media is not limited to Stewart himself. It appears to be part of the corporate culture at Stewart Haas Racing.

With a few pointers from a person far more experienced than me at Twitter.com, I came across some postings from an official sounding and appearing Tweeter by the name of StewartHaasRcng.

The posts of interests were put up shortly after Friday’s qualifying at Bristol.

According to StewartHaasRcng, Stewart captured the “Stewart Pole.”

A “Stewart Pole” was defined on Twitter as the “highest qualifying driver not to have to visit the media center after qualifying.”

The Stewart Haas tweets also pointed out that it was the second straight week for a Stewart pole, and that the most recent back-to-back Stewart poles came last November when Stewart was fourth fastest at both Texas and Talladega.

Denny Hamlin got fined 50 grand for damaging the NASCAR brand by tweeting some questions about the validity for debris cautions in some races, cautions that have become far more rare since his tweets and fine came to light.

I wonder what NASCAR’s Twitter monitors have to say about StewartHaasRcng’s comments.

I also have a suggestion for Stewart and the team people who do the Twitter postings. Go read Monte’s blog, especially the line that says:

“It’s all a matter of respect.”

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

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, August 23 2010
9 Comments

9 Comments »

  • Nell says:

    Tony Stewart is a jerk, and smart ass. The reporters should stop covering the jerk.

  • ed g says:

    This place is becoming a Johnnie One Note, always bitching about how the print media is not given respect by one person or another. Why are you all doing a blog? Because newspapers are quickly becoming irrelevant and have been cutting costs for several years now, including letting the writers here go as a part of that cost cutting effort.

    If the people that have employed you no longer respect what you do, then why get all testy with anyone else? Haas and Stewart have both been thoroughly trashed in the media over and over again. Respect, my ass. You have to give it to get it.

    And commenters, what the hell does being nice have to do with being a winning race car driver? Mark Martin-real nice, but no titles. Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt, A. J. Foyt-not so nice, but titles, championships, racing legends. If you want to cheer for pussies, go watch gymnastics.

  • Bob says:

    I am not going to attempt to defend Stewart we all understand that he is irascible, but I will make an observation. Perhaps if the media did not include in your face and sensation seeking rumor mongers like Pemberton and Marty Smith they may get a little more respect.

  • Richard in N.C. says:

    You should always treat others respectfully. I doubt it could honestly be said that the media has always treated Tony with respect – maybe he remembers.

  • Sue says:

    This article justifies what Tony has been talking about. No originality. You just took another author’s idea (this time is was Monte correctly criticizing Tony Stewart) and now you are just adding to what was previously written by Mr. Dutton.

    Tony Stewart is any easy target when the action on track doesn’t warrant an article. Why is he an easy target? It’s usually because Tony doesn’t think before he speaks. Tony though is saavy in knowing that it really doesn’t matter what he says because many in the media will skew his talking points to fit their agenda. So for him these media sessions are just a waste of time but mandatory by Nascar.

    As I said Tony is an easy target when action on track doesn’t warrant and article. But we were at Bristol. Great racing, personalities abounding, an historical sweep by Kyle Busch but all that you could write about was basically the same thing that’s been written before and frankly its getting as old.

  • Bob says:

    Tony Stewart being a jerk is news ? Do everyone a favor and stop covering that tool, he needs the media more than the media needs him and if his forum to be an ass is taken away he will start to behave and act in a civil manner. A few years back NASCAR and Gibbs forced poor,misunderstood Tony to see a shrink and attend anger management classes and it seemed to work for a while. Perhaps since Tony no longer has to answer to “daddy” Joe Gibbs he feels he does not need to be civil and take his mood elevator medication anymore, so simply cut the boorish crybaby off from all media exposure and I guarantee he will come crawling back with hat in hand about the time the sponsors say he will.

    • Debi says:

      Perhaps if you were asked the same redundant questions over and over you would seem to be a bit “uncivil” at times.

      Seriously… how many times MUST a reporter ask “How disappointed are you with your finish today?” Is that the single most redundant question to ask a driver who was at one time running in first and finished several laps down with a crippled race car?
      We can applaud J.J. for having more tact at being able to answer that ridiculous question without coming off sounding surly or angry.

      Personally, I look forward to Tony’s interviews. He keeps the reporters on their toes. I get sick of hearing the same questions. I get tired of hearing the same standard “canned” answers… Tony’s nothing if not “outside the box”

  • mikeyfan5599 says:

    What can you expect from a person who claims to have ownership in a company but everyone knows is a front man for Rick Hendrick. You can bet as soon as Tony retires from racing SHR will be sold to another Driver that Rick would like to have in his stable but doesn’t have room for. After all they are like peas in a pod are they not?