New Heights

Who started this climbing the fence thing anyway?

Helio Castroneves, who drives for Roger Penske in the Indy Racing League, was the first in recent memory to climb the fence after winning the Indianapolis 500 in his first start.

But has he ever gotten to the top of the flagstand? Not in my recollection, he hasn’t, and now Tony Stewart is one up on the colorful Brazilian.

The unexpected celebration from Stewart was fun to watch, although by the time he got up near the top you were wondering just where he was going—and if he would actually make it. It can’t be easy to climb that fence in shorts and a tank-top, much less a fire suit with a helmet and HANS Device attached, and that’s without having just driven 400 miles in weather more reminiscent of equatorial Belize than Daytona.

That said, let’s not do that any more, please.

Backflips, Polish victory laps, burnouts, burn-downs, fence-climbing…all that’s missing is Terrell Owens, a Sharpie and some pom-poms. Given that NEXTEL is the series sponsor, it would not be beyond the realm of possibility that a driver excited about winning will whip out the old Blackberry and text-message America from Victory Lane.

Celebration is fun, and Stewart’s was even more fun because he’s not usually given to such displays. As he said after it was over, “I'm way too old and too fat to be doing that. But once I started, I was committed and I wasn't going to let the fans down. But I think I'm officially - well it's unofficial until it's verified, I guess - but I think I'm unofficially the first guy that's gone all the way to the top and over and onto the flag stand. So (Helio) Castroneves has some work to do now.”

Stewart also said it came to him in a dream to climb the fence if he won at Daytona.

“When did I have that dream? I don't know,” Stewart said. “It was probably one of my nightmares that had that mixed in with it. If you guys could see some of the crazy dreams I've had, you'd have plenty to write about for the next 10 years and never have to go to another race."

That puts us on an entirely different train of thought, one that I’d like to exit as soon as possible.

It’s not so much that celebrations are uncalled for—they are happy times for the persons involved. Who can forget Brad Parrott’s abortive cartwheel at Richmond when Carl Edwards won the Busch race? I sure can’t…in fact, it’s mixed up in there with some of my own nightmares, but I digress.

Please, let’s just get back to the normal celebration, where you just get out of the car, accept your sponsor-approved drink/product/hat, smile, wipe your face off with a logo-adorned towel, volley-fire sponsor names (a la Michael Waltrip), smile some more and get on with the hat dance.

On second thought, forget all that. Keep it up, boys. How hard is it to reach Race Control from the flagstand?

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2005

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