Rusty Wallace, Dale Earnhardt, Dale Jarrett and Bobby Labonte taught Tony Stewart the unwritten rules of racing which have since been abandoned
Back in March, Daniel Suarez was under the impression that he was blocked on the race track by Michael McDowell. This happened at ISM Raceway during group qualifying.
Suarez then returned the favor in turn four on the race track. Both drivers messed up each others laps and both were knocked out in round one of qualifying.
Suarez walked down to the pit lane to talk to McDowell. He was met with hands. Suarez then threw McDowell to the ground before he was tossed around himself.
All of the above sounds like a reaction from a now retired NASCAR champion. Tony Stewart is the car owner for Daniel Suarez as of 2019.
Tony Stewart comments on the Suarez fight
“I love his passion. We’re going to work on his fighting skills,” Tony Stewart told Claire B Lang.
“He knows how to get them on the ropes. We just gotta teach him how to finish them off.”
“I love his drive and desire. He really reminds me a lot of Aric last year. Aric’s a little more quite than Daniel is.”
“But, I think the world got to see Daniel’s passion. Those are the kind of guys we want in our race cars.”
“Daniel reminds me a lot of me. It wasn’t like, ‘Hey, today I’m going to go try and pick a fight with somebody.’ But, if I got into it with somebody, it’s because somebody did something wrong that they weren’t suppose to do, shouldn’t have done and it cost me.”
“To have that passion, desire and to want things to be right. Somebody that pays attention to etiquette and how things are suppose to be done, I like that about him.”
There used to be unwritten rules that were taught by veteran NASCAR drivers to the rookies
“That’s how it was taught to me from Rusty Wallace, Dale Earnhardt, Dale Jarrett and Bobby Labonte,” Stewart continued.
Bobby Labonte was a huge reason that Stewart landed in NASCAR. Labonte wanted Stewart as a teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing.
“Bobby never dumped me or moved me out of the way. But, he would come over and talk to you at the end of the day and teach you how to do it the right way.”
“The hard part is, there really isn’t that guy anymore. These 18-year-old kids, they’re doing it the way they want to do it no-matter what anybody says. Their crew chiefs are giving them an atta-boy to do it that way.”
“That’s part of what we kinda lost here is the etiquette of how to do things.”
Tony Stewart recalls advice from Jeff Burton
Jeff Burton used to be considered the ‘Mayor of NASCAR’. Behind the scenes, when drivers got into it, Burton would be behind the scenes to help them get it worked out.
“Jeff Burton is a perfect guy to ask. When Dale Jarrett left and a lot of these other guys left — Jeff Burton was still here. He was the guy that kinda put his arm around guys and said, ‘This is what you’re doing wrong.’ “
“Jeff even told me, ‘We can’t do it the way we used to do it. We’re putting ourselves at a disadvantage trying to do that.’ “
In the old days of NASCAR, if a drivers was significantly faster, you’d kinda let them go. There wasn’t much sense in racing them hard, burning off your own tires then getting passed anyway. All that did was hurt both drivers.
But, that all changed. Part of it is the influx of young drivers into the sport, all at once. The other part of it is stage racing, which requires drivers to race harder in general from the drop of the green flag.
“Nobody was conforming to the etiquette of before. You can’t sit there and let guys go if they’re not going to let you go. It was so hard to pass with those cars at the time that you couldn’t just give up those spots anymore. The guys weren’t reciprocating.”
“The whole thing’s changed.”