Tony Stewart, NASCAR and Lug Nuts
Author's Note: My articles are based solely on my observations and thoughts. No statistics are offered. Enjoy...
Tony Stewart is back on the track and racing for the rest of this NASCAR season. Like me, many fans are happy that he has recovered sufficiently from his back injury and can compete in what will be his last Cup Series year of racing. Welcome back and good luck, Tony.
Most of us are aware of the rumors and speculation that he will occasionally race if conditions and circumstances allow. He may race in some of the open wheel series, but his main focus will be handling owner duties of SHR, the other teams and tracks he owns or has percentages in. One of his main concerns will be to do everything he can to make sure there is a future for young drivers, and that the sport he has dedicated his life to, continues.
(Editor’s note: This article was submitted for publication before the new NASCAR ruling on lug nuts was announced Monday evening.)
Tony is coming back amid controversy about the lug nut situation in NASCAR. He has been fined due to his outspoken response to questions about the safety aspect of the current lug nut rules that are in place. He spoke his mind as he always does, and his remarks were not accepted too well by the sanctioning body. Tony has never been one to hold back his thoughts and feelings when he talks to the media.
NASCAR has often stated safety is a top priority in their sport. Many feel that maybe it has taken a back seat in some areas. Because NASCAR has become more of a show with politically correct drivers, it appears that maybe the show is the most important thing, in their minds. They are trying very hard to run the sport for a transitioning type of casual fan. Slowly but surely, they are getting away from their roots and what made them great in the beginning. Technology has evolved and the way the sport is currently being run has also changed. We live in a world where people are now looking for spectacular accidents as opposed to safe and true competition. Some of us longtime fans don't understand these demands.
Many times I have heard drivers, owners, crew chiefs, crew members and even the media make the remark that someone needs to save them from themselves. They tend to take every advantage of what they call the gray area and try to get away with it, in order to have faster cars on the track and quicker pit stops. Most of them seem to want the lug nut situation policed, whereas NASCAR currently feels they should leave it up to the teams. Some teams have reached the point where they are only gluing on 4 lug nuts instead of 5 and then possibly only tightening 3 of those 4. This makes for a very unsafe situation, not only for their driver, but for the rest of the field. On the positive side, it has been mentioned that some teams are still using 5 lug nuts and taking enough time to tighten all 5 during a pit stop.
It has been reported that the Drivers’ Council has offered to chip in and pay Tony’s fine, as they feel the drivers should have the right to speak their mind where safety is concerned. Some were reported to have indicated they may not agree with what Tony said, but he still had the right to say it. I have also read that Tony is getting donations from some media and fans to help pay his fine. That shows a lot of people feel he said nothing wrong. NASCAR has stated, according to reports that the check has to come from Tony.
NASCAR does need to take action in order to make their sport safer. I know I would not want to drive down the freeway at 55mph with loose or missing lug nuts. It just isn't safe. So how does NASCAR think it would be safe for a race car going excessive speeds in a circular motion?
Tony finished 19th at Richmond and in a post race interview, he was smiling and indicated he thoroughly enjoyed being back on the track. He also mentioned that he will continue to speak his mind about issues he feels are important to the competitors and racing.
I wish Tony the best of luck in his final season. I am hoping he stays safe and does not get injured again. I would like to see him retire while still competitive and feeling good.
The broadcasters did speak briefly about the lug nut situation before the race, but other than that, not much was said by the media.
Your comments are welcome and please, keep it clean.