Tony Stewart should stop taking unnecessary risks

By Norris McDonald Wheels.ca

Jul 31, 2013 4 min. read

Article was updated 10 years ago

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Tony Stewart lived through a five-flip sprint car crash Monday night at the Ohsweken Speedway out near Brantford. He wasn’t injured but he was lucky.

NASCAR driver Jason Leffler was killed earlier this summer in a sprint car flip; others not as well known have also died in sprint cars this year. Stewart himself was involved in a wreck a few weeks ago at a small track in New York State that saw a driver airlifted to hospital with a back injury.

Tony Stewart loves to race. I get that. He would like to race every day of the week and every week of the year, if he could. He loves NASCAR Sprint Cup stock cars and sprint cars, in particular. He’s what you would call a "racer’s racer." Always out there and going for it. And maybe if he was a driver for a Cup team with no other responsibilities than to show up and try to win races, I’d say more power to him. God bless him and good luck.

But Tony Stewart is way, way more than just a race driver. He’s the owner and the face of the Stewart-Haas Racing organization in NASCAR and, whether he likes to admit it or not, that means he has big responsibilities. He is responsible for the drivers who work for him in Cup (Ryan Newman and Danica Patrick); responsible for the support and well-being of the team managers, crew chiefs, mechanics, tire-changers, truck drivers and hospitality convenors for his three-car Cup team, plus their families; and responsible for the return-on-investment expected by the major sponsors of that NASCAR team – Mobil 1, Quicken Loans and Go Daddy.

Without Tony Stewart, that team is next to nothing. No, it is not Richard Childress Racing, or Joe Gibbs or Hendrick Motorsports. It is a business built around Tony Stewart and if something happened to him it would be devastating.

It’s one thing to be out there racing and flying the colours in the multi-billion-dollar business exercise known as NASCAR Sprint Cup racing. It’s quite another to be taking really unnecessary chances racing sprint cars on little dirt speedways in the middle of nowhere.

He should stop doing that.

Moving right along, the Associated Press distributed an interesting story by motorsport writer Jenna Fryer on Wednesday that she filed after interviewing Go Daddy CEO Blake Irving at the Honda Indy Toronto. (Why AP waited to transmit it to member newspapers and electronic media is unknown. Or perhaps Fryer kept it in her pocket for a rainy day.)

The crux of her story, however, is that Irving – who took over as CEO of Go Daddy in January – thinks the world of both James Hinchcliffe and Danica Patrick, thinks they’re both a great fit for his company as he seeks to grow it internationally and acknowledged negotiating to keep Hinchcliffe under contract going forward and to stay in the IndyCar series.

Aug. 15 is apparently the date in which Hinch can start talking to other teams, if he hasn’t been re-signed by Andretti Autosport by then.

You’ll recall a column I wrote earlier this week about rumours floating around about Hinchcliffe and his future in the IndyCar series as well as Go Daddy’s. Said Irving in Fryer’s story:

"If you think about both of them, the individual fit is kind of incredible. Hinch is such a great fit because he’s got such a great understanding of social media, he’s actually popped on social media in a way Danica hasn’t.

"But both of them from a characteristic standpoint have made their own way, whether it was super sharp on how you get sponsors, how you position yourself and then how hard you actually race and how hard you try. So for that fit, individually, both people are very, very unique and great for Go Daddy."

Oh, and all those suggestions that Patrick is somehow on the way out?

"I do see social media, and do see Danica beat up sometimes," Irving told Fryer in the AP story. "Mostly by male racing fans. Female racing fans love her. Non-racing fans love her. Our customers love her. She’s a great representative for us."

So there. Button up.

I’m going to Halifax for a few days of R & R, so this space will be quiet. See you the first of the week.
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