Tony Stewart Chases Third Championship

November 4, 2011

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I don’t often write about NASCAR for The Soap Boxers, but I do follow the sport, mostly due to the fact that many people in my office follow it.

My favorite driver is NASCAR’s bad boy, Tony Stewart.  While much ink has been given to the fact that Jimmie Johnson is unlikely to win a six consecutive title, it’s important to note that Stewart – buoyed by three wins in the seven Chase races so far – is just eight points behind Carl Edwards.  A surge by Smoke would give him his third career NASCAR title.  Only eight NASCAR drivers have won at least three titles – Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr. with 7, Johnson with 5, Jeffy Gordon with 4, and Lee Petty, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, and Darrell Waltrip with 3.  Stewart also won an IRL title in the 1997.

A Stewart title would also serve as a nice bookend, as he was the last driver other than Johnson to win a title (in 2005).  He would also become the first driver-owner to win a title since the late Alan Kulwicki in 1992.  Admittedly, this is a bit of an apples and oranges comparison.  Most driver-owners struggle to pay the bills.  Stewart was offered half ownership of Haas Racing (now Stewart Haas Racing) in exchange for joining as a driver and lending his expertise to the operation.  Overnight, the team got a boost in credibility.  Even so, this team had an uphill climb competing against the likes of Hendrick Motorsports.

While you may not like Stewart – many don’t – it’s hard to argue that he doesn’t love his sport.  While he does make good money racing, I’m sure he would do it for free.  Don’t believe me?  Then explain why Stewart spends his spare time racing on dirt tracks across the country – popping up to make random appearances.  Clearly, this isn’t the most profitable use of his time – but he just loves racing.

Stewart also own his own race track in Eldora, Ohio (and also co-owns two tracks in Kentucky and Illinois).  The Eldora track is home to Tony’s annual charity event, Prelude to the Dream, which to date has raise more than $4 million for charities such as the Victory Junction Gang Camp.  Tony also has a foundation (the Tony Stewart Foundation) which raises and donates money to sick children, injured race card drivers, and the protection of animals.

As you can see, while Tony has a bad boy reputation on the track, he clearly has a big heart off the track.

Just three races (Texas, Phoenix, and Homestead) remain in the season.  I expect an exciting finish to a season that got off to an interesting start (with rookie Trevor Bayne capturing the Daytona 500).  Good luck, Tony!

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