Tony Stewart's Lesson at Richmond: If You Ain't First, You're Last!

Kara MartinSenior Analyst ISeptember 10, 2008

I was prepared for a night race, but as we all know Tropical Storm Hanna put a damper on that. The plan was to meet up with friends Saturday morning at the track for a little pre-race tailgating.

Instead, I was busy trying to keep my head above water in my flooding basement while my true hillbilly pals weathered the storm in Richmond for four days in a cramped RV.

I regrouped and made the drive down before sunrise on Sunday morning & was greeted at 8 a.m. with a can of Miller High Life, "The champagne of beers." Anyone at RIR that day knows that it was blazing hot, so the beer input could hardly keep up with the  perspiration output. Lord knows, we gave it a go, though!

We made our way to the gates around 11, passing by the hand written "Girls Gone Wild Auditions Line Up Here"  poster board taped to the side of a pick up truck & the good ol' boys throwing "beads for boobies" to any pit lizard who chose to expose.

For the record, I made it through the race beadless with my integrity intact. Don't get me wrong, I embrace my inner redneck; hell my Mama is from Mississippi and my Daddy from Texas. I didn't stand a fighting chance, I'm a proud Southern girl who loves her NASCAR, but a true Belle doesn't flash for a plastic strand of 29-cent Mardi Gras beads, EVER!

If that's your thing, go ahead, I don't judge. It is just not my style, however I did get unexpectedly felt up a few years ago at this very same race by the old bait and switch. I was walking along the Front Stretch and was distracted by a gentleman holding a foot long hot dog who asked in his best drunken slur, "Wanna see my wee-na?"

At that same moment, his partner in crime cupped my right breast ever so gently and said "I'm from Salisbury, Maryland" (which came out sounding like Merle-And). When I turned to him in horror, he promptly removed his hand and said "My bad, my bad." Maybe that "come on" works in Salisbury, who knows? But I digress.

After hitting the Jr. merchandise hauler for a baseball cap to shield the sun and all of the free Vienna Sausages we could eat, we made it to our seats, which were located on the surface of the sun. I still have the red-hot burn to prove it!

"Gentlemen, Start Your Engines" has to be one of the greatest phrases ever, because you know that the roar of the motors turning on simultaneously is the greatest sound ever. It is loud and exciting and shakes you to your core. You know it is the beginning of a wild ride!

Even though the race was run during the day, it was just as entertaining as it would have been the night before, packed full of drama. One of the best moments of the race was during lap 213 when Jr. spun out Kyle Busch. Nearly every spectator in the stands was on their feet cheering like mad in unison.

It was a perfect moment for us Kyle haters. This was no case of "Don't hate the player, hate the game," when it comes to Kyle it is all about hating the player and still loving the game in my book.

The last 15 laps kept me on the edge of my seat as Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson raced hard for the win. I was pulling hard for Tony, but in the end he came up short. I love to hate and hate to love Tony and his attitude.

At times, I find his "tell it like it is" candor refreshing and at others, I see him as a big baby throwing temper tantrums like a 6-year-old. I had Tivoed the race and when I got home I watched him sitting in his car throwing his helmet, gloves, and steering wheel.

I couldn't help but mock what I was witnessing. With each outburst, I made childlike noises at the screen, like a kid would when he doesn't get what he wants at the toy store.

I pictured him getting out of the car, stomping around and kicking at the dirt in anger. C'mon Tony, I adore you, but enough already. He must subscribe to the Ricky Bobby mentality, "If you ain't first, you're last!"

I like to think of Tony as wearin' a Tuxedo T-Shirt, cause it says, like, "I want to be formal, but I'm here to party too." I like to party, so I like my Tony to party.

You made it to the Chase, Tony....Party On!