From the Marbles

Happy Hour: Tony Stewart is a throwback to old-school NASCAR

Jay Busbee
From The Marbles

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"Here, Kenseth, Kenseth, Kenseth ... " (Getty Images)

Welcome to the latest Happy Hour mailbag! You know how these work: You write us with your best rant/ joke/one-liner at happyhournascar@yahoogroups.com or on Twitter at @jaybusbee, we respond to your messages, everyone goes away with a smile on their face.

Admit it. You spent Sunday afternoon slinging heavy things around and weighing whether you could get away with throwing them at a passing car. It wasn't just me, was it? Anyway, let's get to your letters ...

Love him or hate him, you have to admit Tony Stewart is perhaps the last of a dying breed. He's old-school NASCAR, back when drivers like Earnhardt, the Allisons, Cale Yarborough and others weren't worried about being "politically correct." I guess that is also why I have a problem supporting people like Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and the others who are more worried about what people might think, than being completely honest and open. It does not, however, mean that I condone behavior which puts the safety of others at risk (as some do). It just means a little spunk now and then is good and Smoke knows how to do it. When he retires I will be truly sad because an era will have ended.

— Joyce Keith

Agreed. That helmet toss was one of the most old-school moments we've had in a long time in NASCAR, and I'm glad that most (not all, but most) people are taking it that way. I do think you're being a little hard on the Hendrick boys; at this level in NASCAR, you have to be somewhat concerned with what people think, or you're not going to be at this level for long. Mouthiness is fine, but you'd better have the horsepower to back it up, and few in NASCAR do. Stewart does, and that allows him to get away with a lot that would get others suspended.

I will say that most people, Stewart included, who proudly declare their "political incorrectness" are "looking for a way to rationalize acting like a jackass," but hey, you can't deny it makes for more interesting racing.

Guess what's next! More Smoke!


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After Saturday's race at Bristol I was amazed at the number of people getting on Tony's back for the helmet throw. He's not the first to do it, and I found it rather entertaining. But people say he went too far. They need to realize he has more on the line than most drivers out there because he is half team owner, meaning he has to pay half to replace or repair the crashed cars. And with 3 of them getting wrecked on Saturday his bill will be big this week. If I were Kenseth I'd have extra mirrors put in my car.

— Haywood
Clinton, Iowa

I think Stewart has too much respect for the integrity of the sport to go take out Kenseth early in the Chase. But if both of them fall out of contention? Yeah, he'll send Kenseth off to Joe Gibbs Racing (allegedly) with a nice little spin.

And in re. the number of people getting on Stewart: this is NASCAR. Everybody hates something, and lots of people hate everything. Of course a helmet-toss is going to bring out the gripers, just as it would if Stewart a. did nothing b. flicked Kenseth the bird c. mooned the 17 and d. bought Kenseth flowers and a little stuffed teddy bear.

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If it weren't for Danica Patrick and Smoke, there would have been no drama at Bristol. Everyone is blogging about the wagged finger or thrown helmet. Love her or hate her, Danica brings new eyes to NASCAR. And it doesn't matter whether you tune in to root for her or watch her crash, you are tuning in. Bottom line is she is good for the sport. Now if she can just loosen up and start throwing helmets...

— Dean
Centerton, AR

Like you, I was SO hoping Danica was going to launch her helmet at Smith. But — and I honestly don't know if this is being sexist here, but it probably is, so, sorry in advance, ladies — what if she threw it like a girl? You know, overexaggerated, too high of a release point, no wrist snap, all that. Wouldn't that have been worse? And given Danica's luck, it probably would have rebounded and knocked her in the forehead. Or ended up detonating Jeff Gordon's car, one of the two.

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It seems that whenever you cross the thin line that separates a good retaliation with a bad one, NASCAR steps in, no matter what. Kyle Busch last year needed to sit for his wreck of Ron Hornaday at Texas. NASCAR did nothing to Jeff Burton or Jeff Gordon when they fought (shoved) each other at Texas as well. NASCAR needs to let drivers retaliate as long as safety doesn't get pushed out of bounds. Carl Edwards wrecking Brad Keselowski at Atlanta and Gateway was stupid retaliation, but when you spin someone out but don't wreck them, that's OK in my book.

— Matt P.
Wynne

I'm with you, retaliation within bounds should be acceptable. Gordon and Burton weren't hurting anybody, least of all each other, with their punches. Edwards did cross a line with Keselowski, and the fact he wasn't punished more severely raised a few eyebrows. As is always the case with NASCAR, the only consistency is inconsistency.

Still, there's merit to settling scores right there on the asphalt. Shoot, I wouldn't mind tapping the rear quarter panel (not a euphemism) of that weaving nimrod in traffic in front of me, but the cops kind of frown on you putting minivans into the guardrail EVEN IF THEY TOTALLY DESERVE IT.

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Trivial question. Upon leaving the pit box, have spent lug nuts been thrown, causing damage to humans and/or other cars?

— Fish
Puckerbrush, Virginia

Puckerbrush. Lovely town. Just south of Muddleburp. Anyway, here's a tip for those of you who might be lucky enough to get close to a NASCAR track after a race is done: go over to pit road and grab a lug nut or two. They're all over the place, and they're a killer souvenir. They're also a potentially harmful little projectile, and yes, they do get launched in the air by a car peeling out of a pit stall (usually a car cutting through another stall, as the lug nuts off your own car tend to fly away from the car itself). It's why crews wear safety goggles and the like.

Also, "The Flying Lug Nuts" would be an awesome name for an impromptu NASCAR band. Y'all let me know if you need a guitarist.

And on that note, we're out. Thanks to all our writers this week. You want in? Fire up the computer and hit us with whatever's on your mind, NASCAR-wise, at happyhournascar@yahoogroups.com. You can find Yahoo! Sports' NASCAR coverage on Facebook right here, and you can follow me on Twitter at @jaybusbee and on Facebook here. Make sure to tell us where you're from. We'll make you famous!

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