[cb_profit_poster sponsor1]Clinton, S.C., Sunday, January 5, 2014, 2:34 p.m.
It’s time to write about NASCAR, at least occasionally, again. To be honest … oops.
See? There’s evidence that I’m thinking about NASCAR. Tony Stewart often begins replies to questions with, “To be honest?”
No, Tony, everyone would be delighted if you lied and were completely insincere.
Stewart doesn’t need to proclaim his honesty. He is not, by nature, devious. There’s no need for the honest to declare it, but, paradoxically, the dishonest never allow the issue to arise.
If some NASCAR figures – drivers, owners, crew chiefs, and, in particular, officials – asked, “To be honest?” reporters would be unable to contain their surprise: Ooh, ooh, ooh, yeah, yeah, yeah, honesty … that would be, like, soooo cool. With many of the image-crafted elite, observers have come to expect an edge of insincerity and an unmistakable bent toward subterfuge.
A loaded gun is less sincere than Tony Stewart.
A three-time Sprint Cup champion with a few demerits on his “permanent record,” Stewart is readying himself for a comeback, having suffered a devastating leg injury last year in a sprint-car crash. It’s not really proper for me to write that it’ll be great having Tony back around, that being because I am not around, but it’ll great having Stewart to watch on TV.
Cameras fly to Stewart like binoculars to a cheerleader’s butt. It’s not that no one knows what he might say. It’s more that we know what he’ll say, and we can’t wait.
Early last year in Fontana, Calif., Joey Logano’s Ford pinched Stewart’s Chevy onto the apron. Watching at home, I knew Stewart would not take it well. Say Logano didn’t do anything Stewart wouldn’t. Say Stewart touched off a wreck blocking at Talladega.
None of that mattered. I’d watched Stewart a long time, wrote a book about him once, and I knew trouble was a-brewing. I’d seen those eyes turn black as coal. I couldn’t wait and wished I had been there. Those are the moments that make me miss being at the track.
As Bud Moore once told me, “By God, your ass has got something to write about now!”
I don’t love Stewart as a person, athlete, driver or model for American youth. I like him as those things. I love to write about him.
He is the most interesting man in NASCAR. He does not always win, but when he does, it is spectacular, and when he does not, it is quite often spectacular, too.
One of my most-used sayings is that fans root for drivers and writers root for stories. I was thinking of Tony Stewart when that occurred to me.
I’m like the little kid in “Shane”: Come back, Tony … come baaaack.