2013 STP Gas Booster 500: Tony Stewart defends stance on blocking

Mark Wilson

Tony Stewart says there is a big difference between blocking at Fontana compared to blocking at Talladega and defended his opinion Friday at Martinsville.

Tony Stewart has heard the cries that he's a hypocrite for lashing out at Joey Logano for blocking him on a late-race restart nearly two weeks ago at Fontana.

After all, Stewart was responsible for triggering a 25-car crash at Talladega last October when on the final lap he threw a block on Michael Waltrip as the two raced towards the checkered flag.

But despite taking a fervent stance that appears contradictory to his actions, Stewart says that's not the case.

In his eyes there is a notable difference.

"Talladega is a little different deal than the rest of it," Stewart said Friday at Martinsville Speedway. "I don't like it at Daytona and Talladega either, but it's the position we are put in there. What happened at California is a different deal.

"We don't have a choice. We can't even get away from each other there (Talladega). It's not so much that you are trying to block as much as you are trying to make that guy that you are trying to get in front of push you. We don't have the luxury of running on our own there. You have to have somebody pushing you. ... The last half of a lap at Talladega is different than a restart with 15 to go at California."

Blocking is becoming an all too common problem the way Stewart sees it; an epidemic that's only getting worse.

When he first entered NASCAR in the late 90s, Stewart says he learned from veteran drivers like Dale Earnhardt, Mark Martin and Rusty Wallace not to block. The philosophy at that time was to race one another respectively and if another driver was faster and able to pull away, then so be it.

"I don't know where all of a sudden it became a common deal or some people think it's alright to do now and think its common practice," Stewart said. "I don't believe in it. I don't believe it should be common practice."

However, Stewart's strong beliefs about blocking are not shared by everyone in the garage.

"Obviously, there are drivers that are divided," he said. "At some point it would be nice to kind of know what the etiquette is. The drivers have always set the etiquette, but when we are all divided on it, it's kind of confusing to know what we should be doing and what we shouldn't be doing.

"Everybody is saying, well, this is their opinion and this is their opinion. This is my opinion and I don't think I would have won three championships by making bad decisions for 15 years."

One thing Stewart doesn't want to happen is for NASCAR to start regulating what constitutes a block and what doesn't. The three-time champion feels policing should be left up to the drivers, just as it's always been. And if a driver feels they wronged, then they will take the necessary action to correct the behavior.

"NASCAR has got enough stuff that they have to worry about," he said. "They shouldn't have to be put in that position of having to make that call. "... It's like they tell us in the drivers meeting each week we are the best drivers in the world, in the country driving these things. We should be able to handle it on our own."

And when mistakes do occur, what Stewart wants is accountability. When he set-off the multi-car wreck at Talladega that wiped out half the field, Stewart says he apologized and admitted he was wrong.

Regardless, one thing that he will not do is alter his stance on whether blocking has a place in NASCAR.

"I am not going to change and I have never wavered in all the years that we have talked about blocking," Stewart said. "I don't like it and I never have and never will."

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