"I'm upset that we didn't crash more cars,” Stewart said after the Talladega race. “I feel like that is what we are here for."
“All the things that he had to say are things that weigh on all of our minds as drivers,” Gordon said Friday at Darlington Raceway. “You want to get that message across but there’s only a select few that can do it in a sarcastic way but gets the message out there very clear.
“That took some real skill, too.”
For the record, Stewart wasn’t interested in revisiting the rant Friday and swore he didn’t have a deeper meaning.
“I wasn’t trying to deliver a message,” he said. “The good thing is I’m in Darlington this week, and I’m happy to be in Darlington this week. … I didn’t say anything to try to get them to make changes.”
Stewart said that with the same straight face with which he delivered his rant last Sunday, although he included about another four minutes of sarcasm following the race at Talladega.
“I feel bad if I don't spend at least $150,000 in torn-up racecars going back to the shop,” he said at Talladega. “We definitely have to do a better job with that."
Stewart went on to say that if he could change things, he would make Talladega a figure-8 track or split the field in half with drivers racing in opposite directions.
“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,” Stewart said last week. “I feel bad that as drivers we couldn't do a better job of crashing enough cars for them today."
NASCAR president Mike Helton, when asked if he laughed or scratched his head over Stewart’s comment, smiled and said scratching his head was more the reaction.
Stewart’s comments weren’t so far out of line, however, to draw a fine for disparaging the sport.
“He might have baffled us so much, we’re not sure how to react to it if we were inclined to,” Helton said.
But Helton said that the rules at Talladega and Daytona, where restrictor-plate rules are used to curb horsepower and bunch up the field, are a work in progress. He predicted that there probably would be minor changes for the Daytona race in July.
Helton said the initial goal of the new rules was to get rid of the tandem racing that dominated the restrictor-plate tracks in 2011. Now drivers must battle engine temperatures that limit the ability to cool their engine fluids while racing in a pack.
The new rules include cooling systems that cause the engines to overheat when drivers run in a two-car draft for too long. The rules forced drivers to back out of the pack at Talladega to cool their engines.
“The design and order to correct the tandem racing was the most efficient and least expensive design,” Helton said. “I don’t know that we ever looked at that as a long-term fix.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. thinks Stewart’s intent was to force a change, and that his comments struck a chord with drivers.
“I would say that he wasn’t too happy with that style of racing and thinks things could be better and different as far as the package we had,” Earnhardt said.
“I sort of side with Tony and the fact that I was disappointed in the style of racing, but I also didn’t have that great of a racecar, so I was holding back a little of my judgment due to the fact that my car just wasn’t competitive enough to do the things I wanted it to do.”
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