Stewart Leaves 'Dega With Tongue in Cheek


Three-time champion Stewart says the style of racing in Sunday's Aaron's 499 at Talladega left a lot to be desired. (Photo: Getty Images)


Tony Stewart wasn’t a happy camper after the way Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 ended at Talladega Superspeedway.

The defending Sprint Cup Series champion ran well for most of the afternoon and was in contention for the win until late in the race, when he was besieged by a number of issues.

Stewart fought engine temperature problems and fuel mileage calculations in the closing stages of Sunday’s second restrictor-plate race of the season before finally getting caught up in a multi-car accident.

That ended the former Talladega race winner’s day with a 24th-place finish.  After the race, Stewart vented his frustration at the events of the day in a rather sarcastic media session with several reporters.

"I'm upset that we didn't crash more cars," Stewart said.  "I feel like that's what we are here for.  I feel bad if I don't spend at least $150,000 in torn up racecars going back to the shop.  We definitely have to do a better job with that."

Stewart had some pointed words for the engine and cooling system package NASCAR had in place for the race, which were the same specs used in the season-opening Daytona 500.

"It's fun to be able to race and have to watch the gauges at the same time," Stewart said.  "It makes us 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 Talladega and NASCAR.”

As for the smaller front grille openings NASCAR mandated for the race, Stewart had an opinion on that as well.

"I think they need to close it down," he said.  "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."

While some drivers experienced overheating issues because of the cooling package and smaller grille openings, Stewart didn’t necessarily pin the day’s multi-car accidents on either.

"I don't think any of the wrecks were an overheating issue," Stewart said.  "That's why I say I think we ought to just tape them off solid and run them until they blow up.  I think it would make it a lot more exciting for the fans.

"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."

Asked if he has an alternative for the next time NASCAR races at Talladega, Stewart offered up this suggestion.

"I think we ought to make it a figure-eight," he said.  "If we could make it a figure-eight, it would absolutely be perfect here.  It would be better than what we have.  That's going to be my vote next week: make it a figure-eight and/or we can stop halfway, make a break, 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."

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