Saturday, June 23, 2007

Aric Almirola: When is a Win not a Win?

Saturday night at the Busch Race, in Milwaukee! It should be a fun time with good racing. But, just like the race at Infineon, and like the Truck race the night before, this race is also fraught with controversy.

Denny Hamlin originally was not going to run this race. However, Rockwell Automation is based in Milwaukee, and according to various reports Rockwell wanted their star to make the trek from California to Wisconsin, in hopes of a win. As a reminder, the day started out poorly for our hero, Denny. He overslept, and missed part of first practice. He had to skedaddle to catch a plane, one that for some reason has to be refueled twice during the trip.

Denny's helicopter could not land on the heliopad, and he asked for permission to land at the track, and was refused. (Rightly, I might add!) He finally lands, declares he will respect Aric Almirola's efforts and won't get in the car.

By lap 60, that had changed. Denny was in the car, and Aric was out. Denny went on to win the race, but there was a great deal of discomfort in Victory Lane.

At this point, all of the finger pointing says that the sponsor, Rockwell Automation, made the decision to pull Aric out of the car. It could well have been Gibbs making the decision to placate the sponsor. We know both the driver or the crew chief claimed to have not been a part of the decision making process.

What a shame for Aric! He was in great equipment, he won the pole, and he was running top 3 at the time. AND, he would not have had to fight from a lap back. We will never know what he could have done. And he gets his a win that he did not 'earn.' It is easy to not find pride in that kind of win.

Denny drove a good race, and we cannot take that away from him.

Whether the decision was made by JD Gibbs, Coach Gibbs or the sponsor, Rockwell got their win, but at what cost? If they indeed insisted that Denny get in the car, then they may need to revise their Standards of Ethics.

Who We Are

You Expect High Standards

You expect your partners and suppliers to adhere to high ethical standards. Working with Rockwell Automation means you are engaging a partner that considers honesty, fairness, quality and responsiveness as guiding principles; and integrity an underlying value in every business transaction.

Our commitment to responsible business practices is absolute. Our employees, officers and directors behave with integrity in all interactions with customers, partners, shareholders, consumers, and governments, and comply with the mandates of our extensive ethics program and conflicts of interest statement.

Somehow or other, I don't think Aric Almirola will believe the truth of those Ethics statements. It looks like the one about 'fairness' did not apply tonight. If I were an employee of Rockwell, I would be embarassed, no matter WHO made the decision.

I just wanted to add one more thought, that I already posted as a response on another blog:

And this cannot be good for NASCAR's diversity effort, either. A Cuban-American gets pulled from the car so that an All-American, Apple-Pie Southerner can get the win.

Edited 06/24/07 at 9:50 AM

Tony Stewart and David Gilliland: Last Dance!

Fortunately, the pre-Infineon activities by two Hendrick Crew Chiefs have deflected the attention away from the Stewart and Gilliland incident. So, this blog will finish up some loose ends with the TS/DG issue, and I will then direct my attention to a whole bunch of small thoughts about other issues in other blogs.

David, on Wednesday, finally stepped up to the podium and answered some questions. His first response follows, and can be sourced on various sites:

David Gilliland appeared on the Wednesday, June 20th edition of Claire B. Lang's XM Satellite Radio Show, "Dialed In" (Channel 144/XM Sports Nation/4pm ET) regarding his perspective on last weekend's incidents during Nextel Cup Happy Hour at Michigan where the #38 of Gilliland and the #20 of Tony Stewart made contact and Stewart hit the wall and suffered some right side damage. All teams repaired the cars. Tony finished the race in 3rd, and David Gilliland wound up finishing 17th.

"You know, like I said I'm not a guy who is going to go out and say, 'believe me believe me' and try and be that guy. But, you know, my main concern was other drivers and when those kind of statements are made…I was/ I am concerned. So going into Sunday's race I was a little bit disappointed and kind of in question about how the other drivers felt. In driver's introductions it made me feel very, very good – at least ten drivers came up to me on their own and said, 'You're not worried about what Tony said are you?' and they said, 'Do not worry about it, he says something about everybody every week - its somebody else every week, it's never his fault for anything he does.' They all said that they have been through it - on that side of it. So that really put that whole situation to rest for myself."

"He's the guy at the racetrack that never gives anybody an inch. And anytime in practice obviously I mean he was, he misjudged it and ran into the back of me. And I just feel like, he's the guy I looked up to for so many years when I wasn't racing in the series and now, to have him say those kinds of things about you... it's not the best feeling. It's something that will go on and we will race as hard as we can each week and try to perform our best."

I also listened to David on Sirius Radio's The Driver's Seat for a half hour long interview. I was VERY impressed with his answers! He was matter of fact, but yet you could hear his disappointment in someone he admired. He would not say anything derogatory about Tony, even when given an opportunity. Well done David, well done!

After the show, John Kernan and Ricky Craven mentioned they were both surprised to learn that the incident did not involve pitting, as discussed in the one-sided article by's Joe Menzer. (It is amazing that mis-information by a journalist was believed by so many other journalists. If I could find the video of the incident on the 'net, why could the rest of them not? Or was it just easier to ignore David's side of the issue?)

At any rate, Ricky and John both expressed disappointment with Tony using a 2-hour long format to attack David, when David could not answer directly. They felt it would have been better for Tony to have David on the show to defend himself, or to settle it in the motorcoach. Ricky said it would have been much more befitting of a two time Champ to put his arm around the rookie and say "Let's talk!" I agree, Ricky!

Then, the fans called in. I was impressed that the fans were 100% behind David. And the number of calls beginning with "I am a fan of Tony Stewart, BUT...." followed by denouncing him, was even more impressive. Ricky also expressed sorrow that David's children had heard Tony's tirade on TV. Ricky has children and was very sensitive to what a child hears about his parentsAnd speaking of children, a fellow Blogspot Blogger contacted me! His blog, Black Flag, is very thought provoking. He directed me to his Father's Day article, How Jeff Burton and Tony Stewart Help Me Do My Job as a Dad

In this blog, CC, as a father, recognizes that all sports stars are role models, especially for children! His final statements say it all!

Life is about choices. When things aren't going his way, I'm not afraid to ask my son,"Are you going to do this like Tony Stewart or Jeff Burton."

It almost always makes him stop and think. He'll take a deep breath and say, "Mr. Burton"

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Tony Stewart: Actions Detrimental

I thought I was calmed down from the incident that caused my last Tony Stewart rant. I made the mistake of leaving my car radio on for a few minutes when the Tony Stewart show started on Sirius. Ten minutes later, I turned it off in disgust, as Tony began an anti-Gilliland lecture that was nothing but irrational and a pointed attack.

Then, while struggling to return to sleep (after a wrong number caller on my phone), I turned on the radio in the wee hours of dawn. Once again, there was the replay of Tony's vitriol. I listened as I drifted in and out of sleep.

Tony can't and won't let this go. He truly believes that he was totally in the right. His name-calling on the show tells me that he intends to try and crucify David, using his fans. He declared that after the incident, he was on the way to 'go find him (David)' and that Tony's handlers had to hold him back, reminding Tony that he was still on probation.

A caller asked him "If you know you have issues with him, why did you get so close to him?" Tony admitted he probably should not have been that close to him on the track, but would not admit why he was that close. (I am guessing it was an intimidation attempt.)

Today, while listening to David Poole and Mike Bagley on The Morning Drive on Sirius, the callers have overwhelmingly been against Tony's actions and Tony's conversations. One caller brought up something that illustrates Tony's lack of control.

Tony admitted at the beginning of the show last night that he was late to the show. (He apparently is late for almost everything.) And due to his lateness, he was driving, by his own admission, at 130 mph to get home in time to be on the air.

This is not the first time that Tony has bragged of excessive speed on the roadway. While (again) running late for the broadcast from Las Vegas, he bragged he was speeding at 100+ mph on the I15, a local highway that is 5 lanes of congestion and has serious accidents daily, with fatalities at least every month. We don't need an 'idiot' like Tony driving stupidly and putting innocents in danger.

Tony also complained he lost his hat and his sunglasses from his speeding last night. His comments about his sunglasses could well cause his personal services sponsor to read him the riot act. He laughed that the glasses only cost about 5 bucks to make, but they were sell for over $100 bucks. I am sure Oakley loves that cavalier attitude.

Tony continues to exhibit a distinct lack of control. If things do not go the way he thinks they should, he has a tantrum. If he seriously is concerned that David is a bad driver, he could take the time to talk with David, in a non-aggressive manner and HELP him. At this point the other drivers on the track are going to have to be cautious whenever they see Tony near the 38, because they know that Tony likes his little revenge games.

And thank you to Ricky Rudd for defending his team mate.

“I think he definitely belongs and let me kind of clear up something here. Tony is Tony. What else can you say? You can’t question his driver ability. Everybody knows he’s one of the best if not the best out there, but he kind of has a habit of running his mouth at the wrong time. David got blamed for that wreck, but that wasn’t David’s fault. No one ever came around and asked anybody else what happened, but the videotaped clearly shows what happened and Tony screwed up. He just misjudged his distance and ran into the back of David. David doesn’t really have a presence out here. He can’t fight that battle, but I can tell you one thing, that was not David Gilliland’s fault the other day. But the media seemed to jump on it and wrote it the way Tony spoke it, but, anyway, that being said, David definitely belongs in Cup racing. He has all the talents and he adapts quicker than anybody I’ve ever seen when we go to a strange race track. He’s right up to speed immediately. Our program and our team is not where it needs to be yet. They’ve been working very hard trying to get there and they’re making progress, but I think before you can make a judgment on David, the whole thing has to come together. Our speedway program is second to none. Our Daytona [International Speedway] and Talladega [Superspeedway] stuff, there’s not a team out there that has better speedway stuff, and if you look at it that way—and that’s the only really fair chance David’s had this year—and he’s been very competitive in all those races. He’s run extremely well.”

I do get tired of hearing that 'Tony is Tony' excuse, though. It is like excusing the school bully for beating up on kids for lunch change. It is a shame that we have a two time Champion acting this way. I can't help but wonder how Dale, SR would have handled this. Surely, not this way!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Tony Stewart: Champ or Chump

Tony Stewart is proving to me that he is a Chump, not a Champ. He had another on-track altercation with David Gilliland during Happy Hour practice at the Michigan venue. David had old tires, Tony had fresh tires. Tony managed to run up on David's rear, and David became loose and then Tony made contact with David.

First off, I watched the NCTS and the Cup racing at Michigan, and I marveled at the wide track, and views of three and four wide racing. You cannot convince me that Tony was forced to get that close to David, when they were the only ones at that point of the track. Tony was being an arse and trying to spook David.

Second, have you ever seen such a tantrum? Glares, Snarls, Stomping his way to the NASCAR hauler, and Slamming of sliding door at the hauler. Oh my! How fearsome! The only things missing were the holding of breath until blue in face, and the flailing of arms and legs while on the ground, and don't forget shrieking at the top of the lungs. I mean really, Tony, if you insisit on having a tantrum, I am sure there are several three or four year old children who can give lessons.

Third, David had one short interview about the situation. Tony wailed to any and everyone about it, and in fact held court on it with a posse of reporters. He declared that David had apologized, but that it wasn't enough.

Tony, after his last issue with David, used his radio show to declare that he and David had talked, but that he did not believe David was sincere. I have no doubt that Tony was still bearing a grudge. How ironic that David does not have a venue in which to rail against instances like this.

Tony claims that drivers should run a full Busch series first. Tony, you should have also. I am sure that at least one more year may have given you some more maturity before stepping up into the big leagues. In fact, you may have even had a win in the NBS, something David had, and you didn't before running in Cup.

You mentioned Kasey Kahne being wrecked by David at Vegas. No sir, Kasey wrecked himelf. He got loose, and spun. David never touched him. Yet, both you and Kasey show a distinct lack of class by claiming David must not be that good after all. had a headline that declare GILLILAND WRECKS STEWART. How interesting is that, as all of the damage to Tony's car was on the right front, ahead of the midline. David had damage on left rear. Who ran into who? And then, today we watched corporate shills on Race Day claim it was all David's fault, and that it was David's responsibility to apologize. (BTW, Mr. Excitement, he already had!) It is ironic though, that Jimmy and Kenny both were sitting there on a Home Depot stage, and surrounded by Home Depot hard hats. Jimmy Spencer used to speak up, now in the last few years, he only speaks what the sponsors want. At least the boys in the booth at the time of the incident, Kyle Petty in particular, declared that it was a case of old vs new tires. Mr. Spencer, I trust Kyle far more than I do you!

Finally, Tony....look inward. Since you have been racing in Cup, you have had issues with Gilliland, JPM, David Ragan, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Mike Bliss, Robby Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Brian Vickers, Rusty Wallace, Terry Labonte, Scott Wimmer, Greg Biffle, John Andretti, Ryan Newman, Kenny Scharder, Bobby Labonte, Kenny Irwin, 2 Photographers, 1 Reporter, Several NASCAR officials
and who the heck else? At this rate, by the time you quit NASCAR, there will be no one left for you to harass.

Tony, you have TWO Championships. You have a chance to become a leader who can help new drivers, rather than one who verbally and physically attacks them. I am sure you are looking for respect, but at this rate, I don't see that ever happening. Right now, you are no Champ, but you are one helluva Chump.

Click to see video of incident