Tony Stewart took time to meet with the media Friday at Martinsville Speedway to dismiss “hypocrite” claims after he was blocked at the end of NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway two weeks ago.
“I don’t like blocking. I never have, never will,” Stewart said. “It’s our job as drivers to go out there and try to pass people. That’s what racing is about. We didn’t have blocking 10 years ago. I don’t know where all the sudden it became a common deal and some people think it’s alright to do now and is just common practice. I don’t believe in it and don’t believe it should be common practice.”
Stewart explained the different dynamic between blocking at a place like Auto Club in Fontana, a 2.0-mile oval, versus the restrictor plate tracks of Daytona and Talladega. Contact between he and Michael Waltrip at the end of last fall’s Talladega race triggered a multiple car pileup.
“I don’t like it at Daytona and Talladega, either – but it’s the position we’re put in there,” he said. “What happened at California is a different deal. The people that are trying to compare the two, honestly, I’ve read (which reporters) wrote it and it’s disappointing they don’t understand the sport any better than that. There is a huge difference between the two.”
Stewart also said he and Logano haven’t spoken by phone, nor would it matter to Stewart, because disagreements can’t necessarily be settled by such conversations.
Ryan Newman, Stewart’s teammate, made a few waves earlier in the week when he called blocking a “chicken way of driving.”
MotorSportsTalk continues its review of the Verizon IndyCar Series field, driver-by-driver, with a look at Ryan Briscoe. Despite not having a ride to start the year, Briscoe ended strongly courtesy of a series of strong runs at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
Ryan Briscoe, No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
- 2014: 11th Place, Best Finish 4th, Best Start 4th, 1 Top-5, 11 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 12.8 Avg. Start, 10.6 Avg. Finish
- 2015: 18th Place (8 starts), Best Finish 5th, Best Start 2nd, 1 Top-5, 4 Top-10, 10 Laps Led, 17.8 Avg. Start, 12.0 Avg. Finish
For those who slag on Briscoe as being undeserving of top level equipment, his 2015 second half provided a friendly reminder of his overall ability level in what might be less than the best machinery.
Briscoe was thrust into the No. 5 car under trying circumstances to begin with, getting all of an hour’s worth practice replacing the injured James Hinchcliffe ahead of the Indianapolis 500. But subsequent drives on the ovals there, Texas, Fontana, Milwaukee and Iowa – even if the results were less than ideal – showcased a driver determined to show to the paddock he still had it, and then some. His defense against Juan Pablo Montoya in Sonoma was nothing short of brilliant, and courtesy of double points he actually finished ahead of full-season driver Stefano Coletti.
The Australian immediately gelled with the SPM team, engineer Allen McDonald and race strategist Robert Gue. He continues to prove he’s an asset, as he has enjoyed multiple opportunities to extend his career in various arenas of motorsport in both open-wheel and sports cars, the latter of which he won at both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with Corvette Racing this year.
Following an early retirement for Mercedes AMG Petronas teammate Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton has closed even more on his third Formula 1 World Championship.
View it above in the race recap from the 2015 Russian Grand Prix.