Cooling Off: Stewart Reflects on Bristol
Matt Kenseth was nowhere near Charlotte Motor Speedway on Tuesday when Tony Stewart drove a World War II tank as part of a promotion for sponsor Mobil 1.
Even if he had been, Stewart wasn't ready to run over him "every chance I've got from now 'til the end of the year" as the defending Sprint Cup champion promised after the two were involved in a wreck on Saturday night at Bristol.
"Only if I need to," Stewart said during the promotion in which he drove a minivan, drifting car and tank. "No more than anybody else. "You can't guarantee anything is not going to happen. It's not our intention to go seek him out. We've got along a lot more races than we've disagreed."
Stewart seemed to have put most of the frustration from the Lap 334 crash with Kenseth behind him.
"You get over that stuff," he said. "That's part of racing for as long as I can remember, and that won't be the last time you ever see two drivers have a disagreement."
Stewart wasn't quite so calm Saturday, making highlight reels with his two-handed helmet toss that connected with the hood of Kenseth's car after the wreck.
"I checked-up twice to not run over him (Kenseth) and I learned my lesson there," Stewart said Saturday. "I'm going to run over him every chance I've got from now 'til the end of the year … every chance I've got."
The three-time Cup champion was in such a good mood Tuesday that he made light of his helmet toss.
"Not bad for a 41-year-old that doesn't work out," Stewart said. "I got more velocity with two hands than I would with one. It was a little unorthodox, different. I definitely got a lot more velocity on it with two."
But Stewart didn't completely back down from believing Kenseth wrecked him intentionally as payback for incidents between the two at Sonoma and Indianapolis. Kenseth said Saturday he tried to clear the air after the Indianapolis wreck, and when Stewart wouldn't talk to him he decided to race the defending Cup champion the same way.
"He flat out said it was payback," Stewart said.
After watching the replay Stewart felt Kenseth was blocking him similar to the way he did at Indianapolis.
"You know what pace you're running, and his pace on the restart wasn't what it was before," Stewart said. "When I passed him I wasn't trying to wreck him. I was trying to go on.
"When a guy is willing to risk wrecking himself leading the race with 180 (laps) to go with bonus points and all that … it's obvious. Why would you do that unless you were trying to?"
Stewart said there are no plans to talk to Kenseth before Sunday's race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where he will be trying to secure his spot in the top 10 with two races before the Chase is set.
Stewart is only 16 points ahead of 11th-place Kasey Kahne, but he is all but assured of making the Chase as at least a wild-card entry with three wins.
"It's not a big drama if we don't," Stewart said of talking to Kenseth. "We've both been through this before. We know what we expect out of each other. We'll go to the weekend like we always do. We've been racing each other for 15 years. We both know what we expect out of each other. Talking about it, it wouldn't be a new conversation. It's not something that has to happen."
Stewart said the good news is NASCAR said he wouldn't be fined for throwing the helmet.
"I'm glad it's approved," he said of throwing helmets as retaliation. "I figured I would get some kind of penalty for it. It's nice to know that is something we can get away with.
"I just wish we could get a more lengthy list of what we can do and can't do. I think we could make it a lot more entertaining if we had a list of what we can do."