October 13, 2008
By Matthew Pizzolato
When the smoke cleared at Talladega after last week’s race, Tony Stewart emerged victorious in controversial fashion. Stewart actually crossed the finish line second but was awarded the win because Regan Smith passed him below the yellow line.
Stewart admitted to blocking Smith, who was desperately trying for his first career win.
In an AP article after the race, Stewart said, "Trust me, I've got no regrets about what I did. I did exactly what I needed to do to win the race, and it worked out."
But Regan Smith, driver of the 01 car for Dale Earnhardt Inc. disagreed with the ruling by NASCAR.
“I think it’s a bad call. I don’t know what else I would have done differently,” Smith was quoted as saying in a Dan Gelston article on yahoosports.com.
What else could he have done differently? Smith could have wrecked Stewart, as he was in a clear position to do, wadding up the entire field in the process but he chose not to. More than likely, next time Smith will do just that because wrecking Stewart is about the only way anyone is going to pass him on the last lap of a race that he is leading.
Stewart moved from 11th to 7th in the point standings as a result of the win and has an outside shot at the championship this season. Theoretically, Stewart could win all the remaining races and still not win the title unless Jimmie Johnson and the other top drivers suffer a little bad luck.
Talladega is the wild card that shakes up the standings every season because of the high probably of carnage that usually takes place, and this year was no different.
Several of the championship contenders were caught up in wrecks through no fault of their own. After running in the top five for most of the day, Dale Earnhardt Jr., got caught in a wreck with 16 laps left -- that was caused by Carl Edwards.
“It’s definitely my fault,” Edwards said in the article by Gelston. “I feel bad for taking all these guys out. I was doing the best I thought I could do at the time.”
The week before at Kansas, Carl Edwards admitted to trying a pass for the lead using a move he learned in a video game. Maybe Carl Edwards should stick to playing video games rather than racing in NASCAR and spare the other drivers his antics.
But with his first win of the season under his belt, Tony Stewart is looking forward optimistically. This season has been difficult for him as it is his last season with Joe Gibbs Racing after ten years and rumors started swirling early as to whether or not he would leave, straining his relationship with some of his crew.
Stewart announced Thursday at Lowes Motor Speedway that Army will be sponsoring the 39 car Ryan Newman will be driving next season at Stewart-Haas Racing. Office Depot and Old Spice will sponsor the car Stewart drives next year.
Stewart has all the right pieces in place for a good run next season since he will be using Hendrick equipment, but his season isn’t over yet. Expect Stewart to give Jimmie Johnson and the other leaders some serious competition before this season is out.
If you would like to learn more about Matthew, please check out his web site at matthew-pizzolato.com.
The thoughts and ideas expressed by this writer or any other writer on Insider Racing News, are not necessarily the views of the staff and/or management of IRN.