Aug 25, 2012; Bristol, TN, USA; Sprint Cup Series driver Matt Kenseth (17) and driver Tony Stewart (14) crash during the IRWIN Tools Night Race a Bristol Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-US PRESSWIRE
2 Total Updates since August 28, 2012
9 months ago Update 1 comment
Tony Stewart said he understands why Saturday night's helmet-toss at Bristol Motor Speedway got so much attention, but he wasn't able to completely share in the humor everyone else seemed to find in the incident.
"I don't enjoy getting mad like that," he told reporters Tuesday in Charlotte. "It doesn't make my day. I wasn't happy when I did it, I wasn't happy when it was over, I wasn't happy when I got home."
But he also acknowledged: "At least it gives (everyone) something to talk about."
Stewart chucked his helmet and hit Matt Kenseth's car after the two drivers tangled and crashed while racing for the lead in Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. The throw became the most-discussed moment of the race around the country and even internationally.
Naturally, Stewart had a few quips about the incident. Among them:
• "Not bad for a 41-year-old that doesn't work out."
• "(The two-hand throw) was a little unorthodox, but I definitely got a little velocity on it with two (hands)."
• "I can't say I've practiced that much. Maybe I can find some used-up helmets my dad used in his racing career and practice in the backyard like I used to do with baseball."
• He would have given Danica Patrick an "Attaboy!" if she threw her helmet at Regan Smith.
Stewart also said he hasn't gotten his helmet back yet, but it wouldn't be safe to use again in competition anyway. He said about 40 people have asked him for it so far.
The driver was relieved to hear NASCAR did not plan to penalize him for the incident, because he didn't realize helmet-throwing was approved.
"I figured I was going to get some kind of a penalty for it, so that's nice to know that's something you can get away with," he said. "I just wish we could get a more lengthy list of what we can and can't do. It'd be nice to have that list. I think we could make it a lot more entertaining for you all."
As for Kenseth, Stewart said he was able to quickly move past the incident and expected Kenseth would do the same. The two drivers have been racing each other for 15 years and they both know what to expect from the other, he said.
The drivers haven't spoken about the incident, Stewart said, but a conversation isn't necessary. There would be "no big drama" if the two never talked about it, he added.
"I can promise you, we'll probably go out and race each other like we always do," he said. "When you've got 43 guys every week, you're not always going to agree. You're going to disagree at times. This isn't new. This isn't the first time something has happened like this, and it's not the first time it's happened with Matt. It's never really lingered to the next week.
"We still both have teams capable of going out and winning the championship. We can either spend time worrying about him or worrying about trying to win the championship. I'm pretty sure he's thinking the same way."
As for Stewart's comments after the crash that he'd wreck Kenseth at every possible opportunity, Stewart backtracked Tuesday and said he would not specifically target the Roush Fenway Racing driver.
"It's not our intention to go seek him out," he said.
Stewart was giving interviews as part of an event for sponsor Mobil 1 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Fans voted to "Choose Tony's Ride," and they ended up picking a drifting car over a tank (he drove both anyway).
"I was hoping you guys would all stick around when I drove the (tank)," he told reporters. "I wanted to see who is the most athletic of the group. I don't have to catch all of you, I just have to catch the slowest one."
Later, Stewart joked about using the tank for demolition purposes.
"I know how to get to the parking lot from here," he said. "The hard part is I don't know whose car is whose, so I may have to wipe them all out."
9 months ago Update 2 comments
As it turns out, some previous history between Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth may have led to Saturday night's crash between the two drivers while racing for the lead at Bristol.
Kenseth said Stewart was upset with him at Indianapolis because he felt Kenseth was blocking. Later, Kenseth asked for "five minutes of his time to clear the air," but Stewart apparently refused.
"He wouldn't give it to me," Kenseth said. "I just got cussed out."
At the time, Kenseth told Stewart if the drivers couldn't resolve their problems, he'd just race Stewart exactly how Stewart raced him. So at Bristol, when Kenseth said Stewart put him in a bad position, he returned the favor.
"I was running the top lane and he got a run and he went into Turn 1 like I wasn't there and went straight to the fence," Kenseth said. "If I wouldn't have lifted, then we would have wrecked. So I let him have (the spot).
"Then I got a run back, drove all the way alongside him and kept going...and he chose not to lift. So I don't know. ... I did the exact same thing down there, except he didn't give it to me. I guess he wanted to do all the taking."
Naturally, Stewart disagreed.
"We were definitely faster than that after that restart," he said. "I checked up twice to not run over him."
Kenseth said Stewart was the best driver in the garage and the two had respectfully raced together for years without many problems. But at Sonoma, Stewart ran Kenseth off the track and cost him seven spots – Kenseth said Stewart apologized – and then there was the incident at Indy.
"If you look at it, we did the exact same thing – he just didn't lift," Kenseth said. "So I don't see how that's 100 percent my fault or my problem."
As for Stewart's helmet throw, Kenseth was non-plussed.
"I was expecting it," he said.
Stewart told the Performance Racing Network he would make sure Kenseth didn't get another chance to race him that way.
And as he told ABC: "I learned my lesson there; I'm going to run over him every him every chance I've got from now ‘til the end of the year. Every chance I've got."