Why I Love NASCAR: Tony Stewart

Photo credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs

Tony Stewart is a driver’s driver. Most comfortable behind the steering wheel no matter what the circuit, venue, or series, Stewart’s presence in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series shook things up immensely. Brash and passionate, unapologetically competitive and unused to losing, Tony Stewart is an interesting character who continues to cause swirls of controversy, has rabid fans, and races more than any other man I know!

I was not an active NASCAR fan at the time Tony Stewart appeared in NASCAR. I recall my husband’s enthusiastic appraisal of the man as an incredible racecar driver with a long list of championships in several different series.  My research found that since he first stepped foot in a go-kart, Tony Stewart has amassed some eleven different championships since 1978, two of which are in NASCAR’s top series (2002, 2005). By the time I jumped back into my NASCAR fandom in 2007 I was intrigued and impressed by Stewart’s record so I chose him as “my driver” in January 2008 to win the series’ top prize that year.

By the summer of 2008 I was unimpressed with Tony Stewart’s rank and consequently "broke up" with and ultimately "divorced"  him, taking away his coveted space as “my driver” on my bio. As I’d written at the time and will reiterate here, Stewart behaved just like a boyfriend with whom one has broken up and then starts changing and behaving the way you had wanted him to. Tony Stewart’s performances improved. I hadn’t taken him back, but we "remained friends". Even my sons, diehard Jeff Gordon fans, like Tony Stewart a lot, always wanted to go to Home Depot, “the Tony Stewart Store”, and confidently put him on their list as, “second-favorite driver”.  I even recall one season when Jeff Gordon had won early on in Texas my eldest stated contentedly, “Ok, now Tony Stewart’s allowed to win!”

Tony Stewart does have a brash, direct, in-your-face style and approach, whether dealing with his peers or the media. I’ve heard him attack tire companies, other drivers, and NASCAR itself! He’s gruff, a bit overweight, and rather hairy. But Tony Stewart’s passion, drive, intensity, and dedication to the sport (at all levels of motorsports) are unparalleled and remarkable. He is a true ambassador for any motorsport with four wheels! Stewart is highly involved, stays completely engaged, and is undeterred by setbacks.

When Tony Stewart left the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Home Depot car I was saddened for the loss of such a familiar icon on the circuit. Yes the No. 20 still goes round, and we even like Joey Logano who pilots the car, but Tony Stewart was a big part of the dynamic. With his owner/driver situation I was afraid Tony Stewart would possibly fall off our radars if he wasn’t successful. Fortunately, Stewart’s professionalism, skill, and can’t-lose attitude has him and his teammate Ryan Newman sitting firmly entrenched in the 2011 Chase. I am courting Tony Stewart (at least flirting with him and the idea) of making him “my driver” again. Regardless of our status, having Tony Stewart in the series is yet another reason why I love NASCAR.

Chief 187 is a writer, columnist, and blogger as well as creator of the widely popular Chief 187 Chatter. Her column “Why I Love NASCAR” and other articles are featured on Skirts and Scuffs. She can be reached via Twitter by following @Chief187s. To find out more please visit http://Chief187.com.

Why I Love NASCAR: Tony Stewart Why I Love NASCAR: Tony Stewart Reviewed by Chief 187 on Monday, September 19, 2011 Rating: 5