Tony Stewart

Tony Stewart: Fighting in NASCAR ‘frustrates the crap out of me’

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FORT WORTH, Texas – Just like he knows about winning in racing, Tony Stewart knows a thing or two about fighting in racing, too.

And “Smoke” is disappointed by some of the recent attempts at pugilism in NASCAR.

During his induction Saturday afternoon to the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame, Stewart wistfully recalled the throwdown between A.J. Foyt and Arie Luyendyk in the winner’s circle after the inaugural IndyCar race at Texas Motor Speedway.

“I don’t know what I was more upset about: The fact that we didn’t win the race because we had a lap lead over Arie (before an engine failure), or the fact that I didn’t get a chance to get into the middle of a fight with A.J. and Arie,” Stewart said. “A.J. and I should start (along with Texas Motor Speedway president) Eddie (Gossage), a little fantasy camp for drivers to teach them how to fight instead of this ‘patty cake, patty cake’ shit.”

Stewart playfully mocked Xfinity driver Tyler Reddick, who had said earlier at the luncheon (where he received – no kidding – a sportsmanship award) that he had asked Cole Custer “Are we going to use hands?” during their scuffle two weeks ago at Kansas Speedway.

“It’s like, ‘Oh my God, what are we doing? We’re going to hold hands to come in from recess and preschool?’ ” Stewart said. “That’s why I love Kevin Harvick (for) when Kevin pushed Brad) Keselowski into Jeff Gordon (after the Nov. 2, 2014 race at Texas). And for Jeff Gordon to fight, that’s like, you’ve got a better shot of winning the lottery to get Jeff to fight.

“At least Harvick had the balls to push somebody and say, ‘Listen, if we’re going to do this, let’s do this. Let’s do it right.’”

There have been scuffles in the pits after races the past two weeks in NASCAR: the Custer-Reddick scuffle at Texas and the Denny Hamlin-Joey Logano set-to at Martinsville Speedway (which resulted in a No. 22 crewmember’s one-race suspension).

“It frustrates the crap out of me,” Stewart said. “I can’t stand watching these guys. I’m watching Joey Logano with his hand on his crew guy in front of him so he can act like he’s swinging back there. For God’s sake. This is getting embarrassing.

“I tell you what, just line both of them up. I’ll whip their ass by myself together. I don’t care. I’ll take them both on. We can do it right after this (luncheon) is over. Take them to the media center, I’ll whip both their asses. You can put them right beside each other. I’ll take them down.

“You can stand behind me and act like you’re going to do something, Gossage. That way it looks like at least two on two. It looks more fair to them, anyway.”

Stewart, who once threatened “I”ll bust his ass” after Logano’s blocking had angered him in a 2013 race at Auto Club Speedway, has gotten in hot water for using his fists before.

He briefly was jailed after a 2011 incident in which he reportedly slugged an Australian track promoter, and he went after a fan at a sprint car race in July.

He also has been involved in physical altercations with several drivers, including Robby Gordon, Brian Vickers and Logano.

“By the way, next year I will not be getting the sportsmanship award from Texas Motor Speedway,” Stewart quipped.

Four of 2020 NASCAR Hall inductees to serve as grand marshals for Sunday’s Roval race

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Honorary pace car driver Mario Andretti will have a lot of stellar company around him for this Sunday’s race on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

Speedway officials announced Thursday that four of the five NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2020 inductees will serve as grand marshals for the race.

Former drivers Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte, team owner and Super Bowl-winning coach Joe Gibbs and crew chief and noted engine builder Waddell Wilson will give the command to start engines for the cutoff race in Round 1 of the Cup Series playoffs.

The fifth member of next year’s Hall of Fame class, Buddy Baker, passed away in 2015.

The race will be televised live on NBC starting with Countdown to Green at 1:30 p.m. ET. Drivers will take the checkered flag shortly after 2 p.m. ET.

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Social media salutes NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2020

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Social media quickly rose to congratulate the five men named Wednesday to the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2020: Tony Stewart, Buddy Baker, Joe Gibbs, Bobby Labonte and Waddell Wilson.

Here are some of the more noteworthy posts from Twitter:

 

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Kyle Larson needs ‘timing’ to be right for Indy 500 attempt

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It’s not a stretch to say that when he thinks of the Indianapolis 500, Kyle Larson keeps looking at his watch.

“I think someday I’ll end up doing it, I just want to make sure the timing is right,” Larson said Wednesday on Happy Hours on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Larson would welcome the chance to follow Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Kurt Busch, who finished sixth in the 2014 Indy 500, in doing double-duty at both Indianapolis and in NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 later the same day. But he admits there’s a caveat.

“I would love to run (the 500),” Larson said. “The thing is the way we are (running) in Cup, I’m on the borderline of making the playoffs right now.

“And for me to go and run the Indy 500, which is something totally different than what I’ve ever grown up racing, I feel like I would have to dedicate so much of my time to learning how to be a good IndyCar driver. I don’t want to go there and just say I started in the field. I want to go there and do what Kurt (Busch) did, if not better.”

Larson admits to some other hesitation as well, including this story from 2017 where he said he was worried about some of the heavy crashes at Indy.

“I think that would take a lot away from my Cup stuff,” he said. “I know I race sprint cars and stuff and people might say that takes away from it but that’s something I’m comfortable with and I feel like that makes me a better driver in NASCAR.

“I don’t know if I would be hurting myself if I went and ran Indy. If I was able to get a win in the first  … couple races of the Cup season, then I think I could go to Chip and be like, ‘Alright, I’m locked in the playoffs. Let’s go do it and give it a good effort, too.’

“It’s the biggest race in the world. I would love to a part of it, but I also want to be able to do good at it and also feel like I’m not taking anything away from my day job.”

Larson might be tempted to drive an IndyCar first at a place like Pocono Raceway and see if he could be competitive. Tony Stewart gave him some advice about that.

“I’ve heard Tony talk about it, running like Pocono or something the year before,” Larson said. “That would be a good deal I think.

“You look at their restarts, their restart procedures are way different. The pit stops are way different. Just everything is so different. You’ve got all sorts of knobs on your steering wheel. Different boosts and weight jacker settings that you do throughout a lap. There’s so much that I would have to learn.”

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NASCAR Hall of Fame fan vote underway

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Fan voting for the 2020 NASCAR Hall of Fame class has begun.

Fans can vote online and the five nominees receiving the highest percentage of votes will comprise the Fan Vote ballot.

The fan vote ends on May 20 at 11:59 a.m. ET. The class will be formally voted on and announced at the Hall of Fame on May 22.

Here are the 20 nominees for the 2020 class:

Sam Ard, NASCAR Xfinity Series pioneer and two-time champion

Buddy Baker, won 19 times in the NASCAR Cup Series, including the Daytona 500 and Southern 500

Neil Bonnett, won 18 times in the NASCAR Cup Series, including consecutive Coca-Cola 600 victories

Red Farmer, three-time Late Model Sportsman champion; 1956 Modified champion

Ray Fox, legendary engine builder, crew chief and car owner

Harry Gant, winner of 18 NASCAR Cup Series races, including two Southern 500 victories

Joe Gibbs, combined for nine car owner championships in Cup and XFINITY series

John Holman, won two NASCAR Cup Series championships as co-owner of Holman-Moody Racing

Harry Hyde, 1970 NASCAR Cup Series championship crew chief

Bobby Labonte, won a championship in both the Cup Series and XFINITY Series

Hershel McGriff, 1986 NASCAR west series champion

Ralph Moody, won two NASCAR Cup Series championships as co-owner of Holman-Moody Racing

Marvin Panch, won 17 times in the NASCAR Cup Series, including the 1961 Daytona 500

Jim Paschal, 23 of his 25 NASCAR Cup Series wins came on short tracks

Larry Phillips, first five-time NASCAR weekly series national champion

Ricky Rudd, won 23 times in NASCAR Cup Series, including the 1997 Brickyard 400

Mike Stefanik, winner of record-tying nine NASCAR championships

Tony Stewart, three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, two-time Brickyard 400 winner

Red Vogt, the first master mechanic of NASCAR, and a founding member

Waddell Wilson, won three NASCAR Cup Series championships as an engine builder

Click here to vote on the Hall of Fame class.