Minter: Where’s The Respect, Tony?
By Rick Minter | Senior Writer
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 email@example.com Comments