Every sport has their bad boys. They’re the ones who play by their own rules and don’t give a hoot or holler about anyone else.
It’s not just the guys that are always booed because it’s so easy. Or the ones that fans despise because they are viewed as too cocky, confident, or just plain dirty.
The NFL has Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens, the MLB has Milton Bradley and Manny Ramirez. And of course NASCAR has their infamous villains.
There's Kevin Harvick vs. Everyone, there's Kyle Busch vs. well, Everyone. We have Juan Pablo Montoya vs. David Gilliland, and many more fights that could write their own story.
However these aren’t just drivers that are booed, they are real life villains who love to take on NASCAR and the law.
And no one likes to do that more than Tony Stewart.
He runs his mouth as hard as he runs his car. He’s never shied away from speaking his mind, whether it be about his car, crew, other drivers or trashing NASCAR.
Last season he called out NASCAR when saying that they threw bogus cautions to bunch the field up in order for the racing to be more exciting. Saying that since it works in professional wrestling, why not try it in NASCAR.
It’s what Stewart does best, he has the guts to say what everyone else is thinking and he doesn’t apologize for it.
Earlier this season he and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were partners in crime after the Spring Atlanta race. They went on a rant about the choice of Goodyear tire. Stewart saying they were “crap” and that the first thing he was doing when he went home was replacing all the Goodyear tires he had on all his personal vehicles with another brand.
However Stewart isn’t just evil with his words, he can also be evil with his fist.
He started off the 2008 season by reportedly clocking Kurt Busch while NASCAR officials watched.
But Stewart's problems started before this season.
In 2001 he knocked a tape recorder out of a reporter’s hand, then kicked it, after the Pepsi 400 when he felt he was unfairly penalized by NASCAR for passing below the yellow line.
Then a year later at Indianapolis he was in the news again, first for telling reporters to take the pole (he had won for the Brickyard 400) and shoving where they wanted. Then two days later after finishing 12th he would knock a camera out of a photographer's hand and then take a swing at him.
In both of these incidents he was fined by NASCAR and then ordered to anger management and told that he couldn’t attend the season ending awards banquet if he didn’t pass the class.
He did and soon people were making all kinds of tee-shirts at his expense. Such as “Tony Please Don’t Hit Me,” and even Tony sported one that read, “YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT—anything you say will be misquoted and used against you.”
Since that time he controlled his fist but not his mouth and for some that’s just fine. After all, he’s just speaking the truth and it is a free country.
Now Stewart embarks on the next part of his life as team owner and driver, reunited with Chevrolet. And he’s doing it much happier and wiser than he used to be.
He may be a bad boy but he’s far from how bad our next group is.
If Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the most popular driver and the most cheered for, then the Busch brothers are the complete opposite.
Kurt Busch has always been brash and bold and has no fear in expressing himself. In 2002 after being wrecked by Jimmy Spencer in Indianapolis he climbed from his car and made a gesture to both Spencer and his own behind.
It can be argued whether he was saying Spencer should be moved to the rear of the field or was telling him to pucker up. Then in his interview he called Spencer a “decrepit old has-been—I guess…I guess never was is the term we need to bring up today.”
But in 2005 Busch wasn’t just running from Spencer, he was trying to outrun the law. He was stopped in Phoenix, Arizona for reckless driver. Then when questioned by the officer he was described as rude and uncooperative.
Days later he would be suspended by Roush Racing for the remaining two races and then moved on to Penske Racing. He then settled down, both personally and professionally and is working his way back to the top.
That’s something that the next three drivers won’t have a chance to do-at least in NASCAR.
Every sport has their drug problems and yes they are all equally as dangerous. But none could be more dangerous for more people than having a NASCAR driver drugged out of his mind while trying to control an out of control race car.
Aaron Fike admitted to ESPN the Magazine that upon regularly using heroin, he once used it on race day in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Race at Memphis Motorsports Park on June 30,2007. Fike was then arrested in a Ohio amusement park parking lot with his fiancée while having heroin in his possession.
He has since been suspended from NASCAR.
And so have Tyler Walker and Kevin Grubb; Walker had failed a drug test that NASCAR had actually administered and Grubb refused to take one.
Shane Hmiel on the other hand has been banned for life. Hmiel has failed three drug tests issued by NASCAR and resorted to the three strikes you're out. You’ll never see Hmiel in a race car again, as it should be for anyone who feels the need to endanger others while endangering themselves.
Yes, we fans love to boo the bad guys and cheer for the good guys. Just like in the movies when the hero saves the helpless people from the villain.
These are perfect examples of Drivers Gone Bad and just when we think it can't get any worse, someone will always try to prove us wrong.
The next shocking and big headline is just around the corner and we will soon have another bad race car driver to boo.
After all, for some of us, it's what we do best.