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From this weeks Autoextremist:

Tony Stewart Sounds Off

Tony Stewart. Publisher's Note: He's not only the most versatile racer alive today who can win in anything, on any track, anywhere - he's also the most astute voice in NASCAR who tells it exactly like it is. Fox Sports' Lee Spencer reported today on the comments Tony let fly on his Tony Stewart Live on Sirius Radio show, and they're priceless. His comments focused on last Saturday night's Subway 500 in Phoenix where Stewart dominated, leading 132 laps, but suffered because of lame, "phantom" cautions that negatively affected both him and his teammate, Denny Hamlin.

To wit: "I was disappointed for Denny because I knew he had the fastest car and probably should have led the whole damn race but he had a penalty that he had to go to the tail of the longest line for and that was pretty early in the race (Lap 99) when NASCAR was making sure they kept as many guys on the lead lap as possible. The aggravation for me was I didn't want to go in the media center and bash NASCAR. I don't mind doing it on my own radio show but you do it with some of these other guys and they're going to write it wrong and make it sound worse than what it is or whatever."

Spencer added, "The drivers are sick of being persecuted by NASCAR after voicing an opinion or expressing a concern in public. They're tired of the at-track officiating that follows, whether it's not passing first inspection, being delayed during practice or by the convenient debris cautions that seem to pop up on a whim." Stewart continued: Anybody that thinks this debris caution stuff is the right direction for NASCAR, I think you're crazy. We caught the pack. We caught Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick and no (sooner) than we caught them when a debris caution came out. Well, why would you do that when you've got three guys in a battle for the lead? I was coming so fast it was inevitable I was going to go around those guys and, of course, NASCAR throws a debris caution." The trouble was that no debris could be seen anywhere on the track. Stewart didn't stop there: "After I got home everybody was telling me how the TV said if they could find the debris they would show it but they couldn't find it. I don't know how long NASCAR thinks they can treat the fans like they're ignorant before the fans finally start turning on the officials and say, 'Listen, let these guys race.' To me, it's not all about the money. It's about the integrity of the race and the integrity of the sport and when I feel like our own sanctioning body isn't taking care of that it's hard to support them. It's hard to feel proud about being a driver in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series when they're throwing debris cautions. It's like playing God. They can almost dictate the race at that point instead of the drivers doing it. It's happened too many times this year and it's to the point to where you just get so frustrated."

For these comments, Tony Stewart is an Honorary Autoextremist - for life. NASCAR is blowing it, big-time, and they're absolutely too entrenched and too in love with their own painfully narrow perspective to understand why they're blowing it.

The tenure of Brian France and Lesa France Kennedy has been a flat-out, unmitigated disaster. Sinking TV ratings, sky-high ticket prices, empty grandstands, blown opportunities in new markets and more than anything else - systematically ruining the on-track racing with their "managed" competition philosophy. As I said last week, nothing stays as hot as NASCAR has been forever. The pendulum is swinging back the other way in a hurry, but unfortunately there's no one in Daytona Beach with the first clue as to what to do about it. - PMD
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