Tony Stewart may be trading in his “Smoke” moniker for “Shecky” as he continues to amuse audiences on the NASCAR tour.
Between running out of gas twice, watching his teammate/driver Ryan Newman’s engine fail and catching a piece of an eight-car wreck with four laps remaining in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway, Stewart had plenty of material to work with on Sunday. Plus, the laps he lost in the pits while the team made repairs offered the funnyman plenty of time to work on his material. Here’s some of his best lines.
On the race in general: "We didn’t quite crash half the field which is what we normally look to do here. I was excited about it. I thought it was a pretty good race. I made it further than I thought I would before I got crashed. I call it a successful day."
On fuel mileage: “I’m not quite sure what the fuel issue was. The racing was awesome. It’s fun to be able to race and have to watch the gauges at the same time. It makes us as drivers have to do so much more. Being able to make yourself run on the apron and everything else to try to get clean air, it makes it fun. I’m sorry we couldn’t crash more cars today. We didn’t fill the quota for today for Talladega and NASCAR."
On opening the grilles more to prevent overheating: "I think they need to close it down. Honestly, I think if we haven’t crashed at least 50 percent of the field by the end of the race, we need to extend the race until we at least crash 50 percent of the cars because it’s not fair to these fans for them to not see any more wrecks than that and more torn-up cars. We still had over half the cars running at the end and it shouldn’t be that way."
On shortening the Talladega race: "I don’t think it really matters. I think if you made it 20 laps we would all still crash with five to go or eight to go. If we did that we would be able to fill the time that the fans deserve. I mean they deserve to see us run 500 miles. Like I said if we don’t crash half of the field by the end of the race they really need to extend it because that is what the fans want they want to see that excitement. I feel bad that as drivers we couldn’t do a better job of crashing enough cars for them today … I feel like that is what we are here for. I feel bad if I don’t spend at least 150,000 dollars in torn-up race cars going back to the shop. We definitely have to do a better job with that."
On what the fans want: "Well, I don’t know that is what they are looking for, but I feel like that is the show we deserve to give them. That is what has made Talladega, Talladega."
On the fun factor: "I had a blast. It would have been a lot more fun if I could have gotten caught up in one more wreck. If I could have done that it would have been perfect."
On whether he prefers pack-style racing to tandem drafting: "I think we ought to make it a figure eight. I mean if we could make it a figure-eight it would be perfect. It would absolutely be perfect here. It would be better than what we have. That is going to be my vote next week is that we make it a figure eight and/or we can stop at the halfway (point), make a break and turn around and go backwards the rest of the way. Then with 10 to go we split the field in half and half go the regular direction and half of them go backwards."
What’s no joke? Stewart finished 24th – four laps off the pace – and dropped to seventh in the points standings.