Stewart defends blocking stance, stating Talladega is different than California

by Ashley McCubbin On Mon, Apr. 08, 2013

Photo Credit: Brad Keppel

Blocking. It has become the topic of discussion after Tony Stewart voiced his displeasure with Joey Logano a couple weeks ago at Auto Club Speedway. Stewart wasn’t pleased with Logano’s block on a late race restart. The result was Stewart fuming after the race, ensuing in some comments towards Logano.

In return, Roger Penske, Logano’s boss, had some words to say about Stewart…

“I’ve watched him from the spotter’s stand quite a bit, and I think Stewart is one of the best in the business at blocking,” Penske said. “Anyone is going to protect the bottom (lane). I think his comments are unwarranted, quite honestly. I think we should move on.”

One of the popular blocks that Penske also referred to was the move that Stewart made at Talladega late in the race. Stewart threw a block on Michael Waltrip for the lead, which resulted in a multi-car wreck involving most of the field.

“I fessed up and I owned up to what I did at Talladega,” he said. “It’s the last lap of the race.  I could have just sat there and just stayed in my line and watched 20 cars go blowing by me or I could sit there and try to pick up the faster line and make that line push me.  I made a mistake in doing that, but I think it’s ridiculous to compare Talladega last fall to what happened 15 laps to go at the end of the race on a restart.”

Stewart also said that blocking at Auto Club Speedway is different than blocking at Daytona and Talladega, due to the position the drivers are put in.

“It’s disappointing that they don’t understand the sport any better than that, but there is a huge difference between the two,” he added. “I don’t like blocking.  I never have, I never will.  It’s our jobs as drivers to go out there and try to pass people.  That is what racing is about.”

He added that blocking wasn’t there 10 years ago and now it’s common for drivers to block one another.

“It started at Sonoma, people were blocking into turn 11,” Stewart continued. “Then it was turn 11 and turn 7, now it’s Martinsville.  People will sit there and block down the straightaway to get to the bottom so they don’t get hung out.  It’s just something that is getting worse.”

In speaking of the difference between restrictor plate tracks and intermediate tracks, Stewart added that on the restrictor plate tracks, drivers have to do it because they can’t get away from each other.

“It’s not so much that you are trying to block as much as you are trying to make that guy that you are trying to get in front of push you,” Stewart explained. “We don’t have the luxury of running on our own there.  You have to have somebody pushing you.  So if there is a line coming you want that faster line to pick you up and push you.”

Stewart’s explaination goes back to what Earnhardt Jr. said early last week about blocking. He echoed the thoughts that you just need to give him race to run.

“You’ve got to give me somewhere to run,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “You can’t just run me up into the fence.  You’ve got to give me a lane.  You’ve got to give me — if you give me a reasonable amount of racetrack to race on, then I really can’t complain in regards to what you’re trying to do to maintain the position.”

With Stewart saying that you can’t get away from each other on the restrictor plates, you have to block because there is no other room around the race track to work with as you’re stuck together. However, at other tracks, like Auto Club Speedway, you can get away from each other, resulting in everybody having room to race and blocking not being something that, according to Stewart, should be common practice.

For discussion purpose, let’s look back earlier this year with Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In a sense, Kenseth was blocking Kahne by stealing Kahne’s line, running it lap after lap so that way Kahne would have to find another way by. Now was that blocking? Yes. But was it okay? Well, nobody complained about it and that was because Kahne had race track to run in. Kahne could run higher than Matt, or lower, but couldn’t run that particular line.

If you look at Logano’s block on Stewart, Stewart could have gone lower, but would have been in the grass. That against the blocking code, so to speak, and as a result, caused some anger.

So is there a proper etiquette? Stewart says that there doesn’t seem to be one as nobody can agree on one thing.

“The drivers have always set the etiquette, but when we are all divided on it, it’s kind of confusing to know what we should be doing and what we shouldn’t be doing,” he said.

Stewart was asked if NASCAR should set the etiquette, in which he replied that NASCAR shouldn’t be put in that position.

“We should be able to handle it on our own,” he said. “As drivers get younger and younger and come in they come in with their own set of ideas.  I just know how it would have been 12 or 14 years ago if I would have tried to do that on a restart I know what would have happened.”


In looking at everything, I turn this over to you guys – what do you guys think? Is blocking okay to do? When does it cross the line? Do you think Stewart has a good reason?

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Displaying 6 Comments
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  1. Jeff says:

    Stewart. Under the definition of prima-donna, self-absorbed jackasses, there is a picture of him. He and his buddy Harvick will make a good pair.

    Stop the passing to the left of the polesitter until after the start-finish line and you’ve solved the problem in a much more practical way. There used to be a rule that you couldn’t drop out of line until you’d passed the s/f, but of course Stewart and his ilk started doing it and it became “legal”… at least for them.

    I’ve never in my life seen such favoritism and blatant disregard for fairness as Nascar shows these “chosen” teams. Just ask Regan Smith, he was a victim and you never heard anything about it because one of Nascar’s cash-cows won the race.

  2. Nick V says:

    Christian is 100 % correct stating that nascar could fix the restart problems by throwing the green to restart a race..and taking someones line is not the same a have to give a driver somewhere to go but logano always seems to be taking up the whole track regardless if its 10 to go or 100 to go , thats why harvick,newman,stewart,hamlin and others are having problems with logano , imo

  3. Ken says:

    The fact of the matter is this; Tony Stewart can do anything he wants to do, and that is supposed to be fine. However, no one can do those same things to him. Anyone who has the nerve to criticize Stewart “doesn’t know what he/she is talking about.” Stewart is a typical bully with some real emotional problems.

  4. Bob says:

    So what I take from this is it’s ok for Stewart to set the standard for blocking when it benefits him but when it doesn’t benefit him, it’s not ok. Biggest hypocrite in Nascar that has always gotten away with everything he’s ever done with no penalties. “The Imitator”

  5. Christian Budd says:

    Your example of blocking using the Kenseth/Kahne situation shows a disappointing lack of racing knowledge. Blocking is using your car to physically impede another cars progress – running their lane in front of them has never been and will never be “blocking.” Please do not confuse readers by muddying the waters, and keep to the textbook definition.

    My biggest issue with the block that Logano put on Stewart is that it is ultimately caused by Nascar rules which force the second place driver on the restart to not pass the leader. This creates a problem, because if the leader does not get a good restart, then the second place car is forced to slow down to keep from passing. This allows the third place car (generally not the 4th place car because he has nowhere to go) to get a run on the bottom. Logano felt that he was essentially being taken advantage of due to circumstance, and that is why he blocked.

    Tony Stewart would have had a point if this block had occurred a lap after the restart, but had he been able to make that pass it would not have been because he had the better car or was the better driver, but simply due to being in the right place at the right time.

    Nascar can fix this problem by not allowing the “gamesmanship” and having the flagman restart the race instead of the drivers. Wave the green, let them go. If second place gets there first, then good for them. It would solve so many problems, but they won’t fix it.

    Lastly, regarding Talladega and blocking. If Tony Stewart is right in one thing, it is that restrictor plate racing is completely different than any other type of racing on the circuit, and it has different rules. Blocking is part of plate racing, but generally has not been part of “normal” speedway and short track racing. It is apples and oranges, and you would think that the media that watches the races each week would understand that, but instead are too interested in stoking fires and creating stories than understanding exactly what it is that they are reporting on.

  6. Bob says:

    So what I take from this is it’s ok for Stewart to set the standard for bloacking when it benefits him but when it doesn’t benefit him, it’s not ok. Biggest hypocrite in Nascar that has always gotten away with everything he’s ever done with no penalties. “The Imitator”

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