Come on, Tony, just do it!
(Old photo of Smoke by Anne Proffit)
I just don’t get Tony Stewart sometimes.
One of the best overall racers in the world, 3-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, IndyCar champion, USAC Triple Crown champion (in the same year, starting a trend.. ) and hey, you name it, Smoke can race it.
But when Roger Penske, The Captain himself, offered Stewart a top-line entry in the 2013 Indianapolis 500, he said no. The obvious citations for this response were the three Cup teams, the business side and yadda, yadda, yadda.
Sorry man, that just doesn’t cut it. Particularly when you’re out there playing catch with the indoor midgets in DuQuoin and at Ft Wayne later this month, ostensibly as tune-ups for the Chili Bowl. Congrats on leading all laps at DuQuoin over the weekend – bet you just love to go in there and wipe ’em clean – it’s your exercise for Cup racing, you usually explain…
But Tony, if you think there won’t be enough time to prepare for Indy next May, don’t you think the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the IZOD IndyCar Series, Team Penske and even Chevrolet might try and get you whatever pre-race testing you need? I mean, even your own Cup team owner would give you a hall pass. Just look in the mirror and say, “I really need that Indy 500 Baby Borg.”
Your conscience will kick in at that particular moment and say, “Yeah, you 41-year-old… you’re ready for practice, qualifying and 500 miles at Indy. Even IMS CEO Jeff Belskus would change the start time of the biggest race of the calendar year to accommodate you.
So what’s the problem?
Okay, let’s say you really think it would be silly to try this again – you’ve been burnt by the Speedway a few times? Talk to the Andretti family – they know what burnt by IMS really means… talk to three generations of Andrettis, in fact. Think you’re too old? Talk to Foyt! Think you’re too fat? Again, talk to Foyt.
Tony Stewart has plenty of excuses why not to attempt the Daily Double on the last Sunday in May. He also has a multitude of reasons to do it – the best cars will be at his disposal, one of the very, very best teams to ever race at Indianapolis wants him to drive for them (and they do use Chevrolet engines in INDYCAR, Smoke’s preferred brand in Cup) and management of the racetrack will do whatever it can to accommodate him.
But no, Tony Stewart wants to get his kicks beating up on indoor midget drivers throughout the winter to train for the upcoming Cup season instead of planning for his assault on the Greatest Spectacle in Racing next May.
Just like millions of other Indy car fans and followers, I”m disappointed. There’s still time to change your mind, Tony. Bet Roger’s holding that door open for ya!
By Anne Proffit