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!

Sunday sports section

May 17, 2009

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My favorite golfer, Iowa native and 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson, shot a course record 60 in the third round of the Texas Open.  That’s just one shot off the PGA record of 59, which has been accomplished just three times in the history of the PGA.  The dream round vaulted Johnson from a seven shot deficit to a three shot lead.  A long rain delay caused play to be halted before all players had completed the third round.  The third round will be completed and the fourth round will be played today.


This is Tony Stewart’s first year as driver-owner, and he became a co-owner of Stewart-Haas racing during the off-season.  Many experts felt that it would take Stewart and teammate Ryan Newman a bit of time to get comfortable with their new team (similar to the way they felt Stewart would struggle last year with Toyotas).  Stewart has proved them wrong to this point, as he is second in point, just behind Jeff Gordon.  Newman is also having a good year, eight in points.  On Saturday, Stewart picked up his first win of the year in NASCAR’s All-Star race.  It doesn’t count for anything in the standings, of course.  There is a cash prize for the winner, though – a million bucks.  Seriously, you could put Tony in a Yugo and he might win a race for you.  Dude can drive.


Jockey Calvin Borel shocked many observers (including kosmo) by jumping from Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird onto Kentucky Oaks winner filly Rachel Alexandra.  The move paid off, with Rachel Alexandra holding off Mine The Bird to win the Preakness.  Observers were left to speculate whether Mine That Bird would have been the victor had Borel been aboard.  Borel can’t win the Triple Cown, but he does stand a chance of being abord the winners of all three Triple Crown races this year.


The two teams that many experts assumed would face off in the NBA finals are instead facing elimination in the conference semi-finals.  The Boston Celtics, playing without Kevin Garnett, are being tested by the Orlando Magic.  On the other side of the country, Kobe Bryant is trying to push his L.A. Lakers past a Houston Rockets team that is playing surprisingly well without All-Star center Yao Ming and fellow big man Dikembe Mutombo, both of who are out for the playoffs with injuries (Mutombo has announced that he will retire.)

Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps jumped back into the pool and promptly lost.  He finished second in a 100 meter backstroke race to Aaron Piersol.  Piersol is no slouch, though – he is the world record holder and two time defending Olympic Champion in the event.  Phelps is making major changes to his program and will be featuring a different array of events in the 2012 Olympics.  After the 2012 Olympics, I expect him spend his retirement years playing golf in Florida with other retirees.  Or maybe not.

Raul Ibanez

36 year old Raul Ibanez of the Phillies is off to a very hot start, hitting .368 with 13 homers and 35 RBI and a sky-high 1.168 OPS.  The raw numbers may be shocking, but the fact that Ibanez has excelled after moving from Seattle to Philadelphia should not be a surprise.  Phildadelphia is a much better hitter’s park, and he has better production in the lineup.  Somewhat akin to Jason Bay’s move from Pittsburgh to Boston, where he also added protection and joined a team with considerably more offensive weapons.