NASCAR and professional wrestling aren't exactly two things that get compared to each other very often, but Tony Stewart saw some similarities in the sports that he couldn't let go unnoticed. On his weekly radio show way back in 2007, Stewart dished on some of the issues he was seeing with NASCAR, basically calling out the league and questioning the legitimacy of the winners.
Stewart is a firecracker, and he particularly demonstrated this during the mid-2000s era of NASCAR. He wasn't afraid to speak his mind, even if that meant dealing with some backlash. It's part of the reason he gained a lot of fans. You know, other than the fact that he was extremely talented behind the wheel (the three Cup championships and 49 wins pretty much speak for themselves). But, let's get to those controversial comments.
First off, you have to go back to the April 21 race at Phoenix Raceway. Stewart was desperate for a win after abysmal performances at Daytona, Bristol, and Texas. Driving for Joe Gibbs Racing at the time, Stewart had victory in his grasp, but a caution late in the race forced him to pit and practically handed the win to Jeff Gordon. Stewart ended up ducking out on any post-race interviews, but he decided to address his disappointing runner-up finish later on his radio show. The way he saw it, NASCAR was encouraging late caution flags to help generate excitement. Then came the pro wrestling comparison.
"I guess NASCAR thinks 'Hey, wrestling worked, and it was for the most part staged, so I guess it's going to work in racing, too,'" Stewart said. "I can't understand how long the fans are going to let NASCAR treat them like they're stupid before the fans finally turn on NASCAR. I don't know that they've run a fair race all year. They can almost dictate the race instead of the drivers doing it. It's happened too many times this year."
Stewart continued, "It's like playing God. They can almost dictate the race instead of the drivers doing it. It's happened too many times this year."
NASCAR didn't exactly take kindly to these comments, calling them "very, very disappointing." Spokesman Jim Hunter went on to talk about how NASCAR has been running races since 1948, and that they've always made and would continue to make sure the safety of each driver was top priority. Still, officials opted not to punish Stewart for speaking his mind.
Love him or hate him, one thing is for sure about Tony Stewart: whenever he's riled up about something, there's no doubt he's going to talk about it. Some may agree with his concerns, and others may understand NASCAR's point of view, but racing is racing in the end. Sometimes you just get dealt a bad hand, and you have to live with it.
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