Tony Stewart says hed rather look at cheerleaders than serve as one.
Fair enough. But he gets that when he chose to be a driver-owner he became responsible for 200-some people who service the three Sprint Cup teams in his organization.
Stewart says hes not too smart. Yet he is smart enough to check in on all those people who depend on him for guidance and inspiration.
When you have a good day like today, Im ecstatic about our win, Stewart said Sunday, after winning for the first time in 30 Sprint Cup races. But at the same time, you go back to the bus and (think), What happened to Ryan (Newmans) day? What happened in Danica (Patricks) day?
Newman and Patrick are part of a three-team operation with Stewart as the driving force. They hadnt been very good this season, particularly by the standards of former series champion Stewart, who didnt have a top-five finish before Sunday.
Sometimes Stewart had to get on people in the organization. More frequently, he had to remind them, so long as they keep trying, that this all would work out.
We all have the role of keeping each other energized and pumped up, but the guys that dont even get a shot to come to the race track on the weekend have done as much of that as anybody, Stewart said.
Everybodys been frustrated and everybody agitated. But its for good reasons. They are not just happy having a job and collecting a paycheck.
Stewart, a pugnacious sort who has battled with reporters, laughed Sunday at how much he missed walking into the infield media center and talking about a victory. It had been since last July at Daytona and that frustration was amplified by his varied responsibilities.
Stewart had no expectation of winning Sunday. His car was terrible during practice Saturday, so much so that, to use Stewarts word, they aborted everything they thought would work in race set-up.
It turned out to be a good gamble. Then late in the race when Stewart was chasing down Juan Pablo Montoya for the lead, crew chief Steve Addington told his driver use it up, in regard to the cars resources.
Stewart joked he was the one whod pay for a car that might become a piece of scrap metal. But his real misgiving was the possibility that challenging Montoya would just lose second place to Jeff Gordon.
He stopped being an owner that instant and acted like a racer. It all worked out and served the owner, too.