Ah, Tony Stewart. We were all so worried once you became an owner that you'd get soft, that you'd leave Evil Tony in the mists of history and become a kinder, gentler Smoke.
That ain't the case.
Friday at Bristol, Smoke was in rare form, cranky and crabby and clearly ticked off at having to answer what seemed like some fairly basic questions. A sample:
Q: What are your final thoughts on the wing?
A: "Who cares? We're not going to have it next week. Doesn’t matter.
Q: Did you think it looked good?
A: I don't know. I didn't really think much about it. It's a race car to me, not a show car. I didn't think much about it.
Q: They said they changed it because fans and drivers didn't like it ...
A: Go ask the fans, then.
Q: They said drivers as well as fans, which is why I'm soliciting your opinion.
A: I don't have an opinion. Thanks for asking.
Later, when asked about NASCAR's move toward "self-policing" by the drivers, Tony offered this:
"You guys worry about the soap opera stuff so much. It's stuff that happened two weeks ago that I've long forgot about it. I'm more worried about figuring out how to make my race car go fast at Bristol, not how to continue the saga and the drama and the soap opera that's called the NASCAR media center."
As Sirius/XM's Claire B. Lang prepared to ask a question, Tony stepped in:
"Good luck, Claire. A guy I've never seen in a media center in my whole life has had the best question of the day here. [It was about the 48 team.] Nobody else has even come close yet."
"That's why we're here," another reporter replied, "trying to impress you with our questions."
To which Stewart shot back, "The great thing about every time I come in here, and you guys make me feel better about myself because I feel so much smarter than what I thought I was when I came in here."
Amazingly, almost none of this made the official transcript!
Not to say the NASCAR media isn't about drama -- like any other workplace, it's got its moments. And I'd imagine that it gets numbing answering the same questions week after week. But the general consensus was that Smoke went a little too far in being difficult this time.
SBNation's Jeff Gluck tweeted, "Tony is in one of his surliest, jerk moods of the season. Cheers." ESPN's Ryan McGee added, "You may call Tony Stewart's snippy attitude with the media cool and edgy. I say it's weak."
So now it's Tony vs. The Media. Man, is there anybody that's not fighting in NASCAR these days?