NASCAR chairman Brian France and his communications staff have expressed a desire to put diverse driver personalities more in the forefront this season, to pierce the sponsor-driven choir boy facade that has homogenized the free spirits that defined the sport's formative years. The reasoning is simple: The curious become fans by connecting with personalities. NASCAR got exactly what it wanted in this week's edition of Rolling Stone, and likely much more. "Warts and all" hardly covers it. Certainly no one should be surprised that a high-strung, wealthy 37-year-old such as Tony Stewart, above, would indulge himself in everything his money and fame can subsidize. And they shouldn't begrudge that indulgence. It's his choice. But seeing it all splayed in print must have been unsettling for a sanctioning body that espouses family environment more than any other major league. A Parade magazine cover, which came out a few days later, was likely more NASCAR's style.
From the Rolling Stone article:
"The only thing Stewart enjoys more than a race car and a fight, it seems, is women. Over the course of a race weekend, he's approached by dozens of them, each more long-legged, doe-eyed and blond than the last. Inside the NASCAR bubble, these gals are called 'pit lizards,' and they prowl the inner sanctum at tracks throughout the year."
NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said he had not read the article, in which he calls Stewart "an a - - hole at times," and did not return a call for comment.
Joey Logano, introduced this week as Stewart's replacement for 2009 in the No. 20 Toyota, can smash Kyle Busch's records for youngest winner in the Sprint Cup series. He already took care of Nationwide. But Logano will need to find himself a truck ride to break that series' standard for precociousness, having skipped that rung in his quick climb to NASCAR's top series.
Youngest winners, NASCAR top three series
Trucks: Kyle Busch, 20 years, 18 days Nationwide: Joey Logano, 18 years, 21 days Sprint Cup: Kyle Busch, 20 years, 126 days
Dixon in control
Scott Dixon, far right, had his points lead cut into when second-place Helio Castroneves, near right, won Sunday at Sonoma, Calif., but the 2003 IndyCar series champion is still in control. Castroneves could bank a maximum of 106 points with wins in the final two races of the season — Sunday at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park and Sept. 7 at Chicagoland Speedway — increasing his season total to 639.
Dixon, who has 576 points, would need 63 points in the final two races, an average of 31½ points per race, which is just less than the 32 points awarded for a fourth-place finish.