By Jeffery Armstrong
NASCAR race driver Tony Stewart has gone too far this time. Now after all these years and incidents, he has done the ultimate no-no n he's got me upset.
Last Sunday at the Tropicana 400 in Illinois, Stewart bumped the No. 9 car of rookie driver Kasey Kahne, causing Kahne and other drivers to wreck.
Kahne's pit crew was so angry with Stewart that they charged into his pit crew's area and started a pro wrestling "battle royal," where fisticuffs reigned supreme.
Now I'm angry. Kahne is my "boy" in NASCAR, just like "Blue" was "Frank the Tank's" boy in the movie Old School, a recent comedy classic. Even though Kahne hasn't won a NASCAR race yet, he's still cool in my book, especially with his hot start to the season. So when something happens to him, I take notice.
After the race, Stewart said he didn't mean to bump Kahne. He said he slowed down so he wouldn't hit Kahne, but then Kahne also slowed down and that's why Stewart hit him.
Sorry, Tony, but I'm just not buying it. You've been racing a little too long and won too many races to "accidentally" bump another driver. You know what you're doing on the track and you bumped my boy to get ahead and that's not right.
So now I am forced to place Stewart on my list of athletes I don't like, somewhere between Kobe Bryant (No. 1), Karl Malone (No. 2) and Pedro Martinez (No. 5). Yep, it took me awhile but I join the long list of sportswriters who aren't infatuated with Tony Stewart. When I covered my first NASCAR race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway back in March 2002, one of the reporters in the AMS Media Center bashed Stewart, especially as he took the lead in the race. She didn't like him at all and no one in the Media Center was overjoyed when he won that particular race.
I really didn't have too much to say about Stewart then, but a lot has happened since March 2002. Stewart has had several brushes with the media and other drivers and was seriously reprimanded for his behavior by Joe Gibbs Racing and major sponsor Home Depot. One incident that infuriated me was when Stewart confronted a reporter, slapped the hand-held microphone out his hand and then kicked it away.
Whew. I get angry thinking about that n doing that to a reporter is grounds for a street fight. If I had been that reporter, it would've been tough for me to hold back.
After all, I've seen Stewart up close at AMS. He and I were standing next to each other in front of the drivers meeting room and I was amazed. A lot of the drivers are pretty short in stature. The NASCAR media guide lists Stewart at 5-foot-9, 170 pounds. Yeah, right. He's like 5-7, 153 pounds or something like that. I'm just at 6-1 so imagine how I felt as I looked down on Stewart that day. I can't see him getting away with trying to knock something out of my hand. I'm not a violent person, but I wouldn't take any mess from a guy like Tony Stewart, someone who seems to believe he can get away with everything.
Jeffery Armstrong is a sports writer for the Daily and his column appears on Thursdays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.