Ranking the Top 10 Tantrums of Tony Stewart's NASCAR Career
Although Tony Stewart hasn't been in NASCAR as long as, say, Jeff Gordon or Mark Martin, he has become one of NASCAR's loudest voices. Stewart has earned quite a reputation as an individual who isn't afraid to take others to task, be it the media or other drivers.
That's not to say he isn't right about a lot of things. Stewart is a throwback to the racers of old, the last of the true Saturday-night-do-it-yourself drivers. But the downfall of the success he has found is that he is one of the loudest when it comes to tantrums.
Sometimes his tantrums are quite funny, while other times they're scathing to the point that you can almost smell flesh burning. The following showcases plenty of both, as these are the most memorable tantrums of Tony Stewart's NASCAR career.
10. June 2007, Michigan International Speedway
Tony Stewart has often demonstrated little patience with inexperienced drivers. One such incident happened in June of 2007 during practice for the Michigan race.
Stewart was running behind David Gilliland during practice when Gilliland's Ford slowed up and moved high. However, Gilliland slowed up too much and was struck by Stewart's Chevy. Both cars had a minor amount of damage and went to the garage for repairs.
Stewart wasted no time taking Gilliland to task, alleging that Gilliland's lone Busch Series win the year before in sub-par equipment didn't make him good enough for the Cup Series. As usual for an angry Stewart interview, the word "idiot" was used multiple times.
Stewart had already had it in for Gilliland earlier in the season, thanks to a late-race crash at Talladega in the spring. Moral of the story: When Stewart has it in for someone, hilarity ensues.
9. May 2004, Richmond International Raceway
In the Spring of 2004, many were wondering what was wrong with Stewart, thanks in part to a series of on-track incidents including touching off The Big One at Talladega as well as contact with both Rusty Wallace and Jeff Gordon.
Prior to the Richmond race, Stewart did an interview with FOX regarding his run-ins on the track. Broadcaster Darrell Waltrip, a former Cup champion, became involved in the segment after Stewart accused the media of blowing things out of proportion.
Stewart proceeded to blast Waltrip during the interview, but this seemed more like a typical Stewart tantrum against the media. It was no secret that Stewart was having a stretch of tough races that spring, and when Waltrip tried to argue that the media was only pointing out what they saw, Stewart unfairly chose to slam Waltrip.
This was a rare instance of Stewart being in the wrong regarding the media, although the Fantasy Island bit was pretty funny.
8. August 2012, Bristol Motor Speedway
It's no secret that at the Bristol Night race tempers tend to boil ever quite easily. The event itself is a nod to the grassroots Saturday night races many of these drivers are familiar with, complete with beating, banging and high levels of frustration from the stresses of the season.
During last year's running of the event, Matt Kenseth was racing Stewart for the lead when contact was made, sending both into the inside wall. While Kenseth was able to restart his Ford and drive away, Stewart was unable to do the same.
Stewart responded by exiting his crumpled Chevy and hurling his helmet towards Kenseth, who was exiting the pit road. The helmet hit the No. 17 square on the nose to the delight of fans everywhere. Stewart saluted the crowd before entering the ambulance.
At least this tantrum was kind of exciting.
7. July 2006, Pocono Raceway
In one of the more famous dust-ups of 2006, fans at Pocono Raceway were treated to a double whammy as Stewart took rookie Clint Bowyer to task while Carl Edwards blasted Stewart for the same incident.
Early in the race, Bowyer squeezed Stewart high, where Stewart kissed the wall. It was minor damage, but Stewart retaliated by slamming into Bowyer, who spun into Edwards, sending both cars around with a good bit of damage.
Stewart's reasoning was that Bowyer didn't know how to give and take on the race track, something that Stewart has lit up the mic about in previous years. Therefore, he felt justified by wrecking Bowyer for such a minute brush.
Meanwhile, Edwards exacted his own bit of revenge by spinning Stewart on the pit road. What a day in the Poconos.
6. March 2007, Las Vegas Motor Speedway
2007 saw a newly configured Las Vegas Motor Speedway on the NASCAR circuit, mostly because track officials felt that the racing was too boring and strung out for the fans. With the addition of extra banking and a smoother racing surface, many were certain that the quality of racing was going to go up.
But Tony Stewart was not.
During driver introductions for the first Busch Series event to be run on the new configuration, ESPN pit reporter Allan Bestwick asked Stewart what he thought of the new configuration. Stewart responded by lamenting track general manager Chris Powell's choice to change what Stewart felt was a nice facility into a dangerous place to race.
Stewart pointed out that due to his competitive nature he would still go for the win, but he still didn't like the idea of racing on such a dangerous track, pointing out the amount of cars that crashed during the Busch and NEXTEL Cup practices.
5. September 2008, Richmond International Raceway
2008 was not a kind year to Tony Stewart. In his only season in a Toyota, as well as his last season with Joe Gibbs Racing, Stewart had to deal with a long winless streak during the season.
For a driver who was accustomed to success, not being able to seal the deal brought a lot of stress upon the team as well as the driver, and things came to a head at the last race of the 2008 regular season.
Stewart had a winning car at Richmond that day, leading Jimmie Johnson late in the going. However, on the day's final pit stop, while his crew did everything right, Johnson was able to beat him off pit road and held off Stewart for the win.
A livid Stewart made his crew feel the rough side of his tongue in a sarcasm-based rant, accusing them of giving away the race. Crew chief Greg Zippadelli came to the crew's defense, but Stewart was having none of it.
4. April 2013, Auto Club Speedway
This year's race at Auto Club was one of the most exciting we have seen in a long time. Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin, who were in the midst of a feud, were beating and banging on the last lap when contact was made that wrecked both drivers and sent Kyle Busch to Victory Lane.
So when Stewart made himself known on the pit road by cutting off Logano and coming after him, many were wondering what the case was until Stewart let it be known that he was angry with Logano's blocking. Stewart proceeded to call Logano a "spoiled little rich kid," also stating that he was going "to beat [Logano's] ass."
Although it was a day many fans would remember, Stewart's tantrum left him with egg on his face. While he attacked Logano for blocking, it wasn't even a year before, October of 2012 to be exact, that Stewart caused a last-lap accident at Talladega by blocking.
Stewart could have restrained himself or at least chosen a different reason for attacking Logano. 2013 has not been kind to Stewart, so he could have at least tried that as an excuse.
3. February 2009, Daytona International Speedway
Tony Stewart goes with Goodyear like Joel Osteen goes with Iron Maiden. That is, they don't go together at all.
Stewart has voiced a lot of criticism over the years in regards to Goodyear tires, including during the final practice session before the 2009 Daytona 500. Stewart's teammate Ryan Newman had not one, but two catastrophic tire failures during Speedweeks, and it was the second incident that Stewart was involved in.
Stewart wasn't happy that two of his cars were wrecked because of the celebrated tire manufacturer's shortcomings.
If you think this is Stewart's worst criticism regarding Goodyear, then maybe you should check out the next slide.
2. March 2008, Atlanta Motor Speedway
Not even a runner-up finish in the fourth race of the 2008 season was enough to pacify Tony Stewart's temper. The victim? None other than Goodyear, the official tire of NASCAR.
Stewart criticized Goodyear for the tire they had ready for the drivers for the Atlanta race weekend. He called Goodyear out on why they had left almost all other forms of professional motorsports, citing the fact that they were unable to make a decent racing tire.
He followed that up with stating that they should pull out of racing altogether and stick to street tires. However, after making that statement he went on to say that he was going to dismount every Goodyear tire off of everything he owned and put on something else.
Hoosier and Firestone undoubtedly loved Stewart for this clip.
1. February 2006, Daytona International Speedway
Many people were left wondering what was wrong with Tony Stewart following the 2006 Daytona 500. Only a week before, he voiced concern regarding aggressive driving after the Budweiser Shootout. Yet in the 500 he was involved in multiple aggressive driving incidents where he was the instigator.
Initially, Matt Kenseth's Ford was on the outside of Stewart early in the race, which caused a bobble out of Stewart's No. 20. It was nothing serious, as Stewart was able to recover and continue. But not long after Stewart made contact with Jeff Gordon, sending both into the wall.
Still, Stewart managed to move back towards the front, only to deliberately run Kenseth through the grass as retribution for the earlier incident that got Stewart loose. Kenseth's Ford shot back up the track and into the wall, where it somehow managed not to be hit by the rest of the field. Stewart's summation of the incident was that "[Kenseth] started it, and [Stewart] finished it."
As his actions went against his comments after the Shootout the week before, the question still remains: What was all that about?