This is an article from the Aug. 1, 2011 issue
SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT FAN
The driver of the number 14 car stands 11th in the NASCAR points standing, with seven races left before the 12-driver Chase for the Cup field is set.
Dan Patrick:Did you see the tweets from Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate claiming NASCAR drivers aren't athletes?
Tony Stewart: I heard a little bit about that. Is he even a starter? Does he even play? He said he can drive 90 miles per hour?
DP:How often do you find yourself defending your honor as an athlete?
TS: Not very often. Most of those guys who feel that way, when they get a chance to actually ride in a car and see the conditions that we drive under and the g-loads we deal with, [they feel differently]. We don't have timeouts. We don't have halftime. We play the whole game. It's always interesting [to hear] somebody who doesn't know anything about our sport when they think they know what they're talking about.
DP:If Golden Tate got into your car, could you make him cry?
TS: I don't think he would cry, but I think he would realize it's a lot more physical than what he thinks it is. It's a different type of conditioning. We're not hitting guys. But [we're] sitting in a 130- or 140-degree car for 3½ hours.
DP:How much weight do you lose during a race?
TS: This time of year, probably six or eight pounds. It's all in fluids, and by the next day you've got all that weight back. You're not running, but you're in a car where you have to have your concentration on 100 percent the whole time. You're not just driving 90 miles an hour down the interstate—my mom does that every day going to work. To do it with other guys around you running 195 miles per hour takes a little bit more skill.
DP:Did you play any sports in high school?
TS: I played baseball. I wasn't the best baseball player, but I had fun doing it.
DP:Who do you think will win the Cup this year?
TS: I don't know right now. Obviously Jimmie Johnson is going to be a factor. Denny Hamlin is really close—after losing it last year, he knows what it takes to win it. Kurt Busch has been on his game. The Roush cars have been good; Carl Edwards has been on form. Jeff Gordon has been good again. I think those first two weeks of the Chase are going to set the tone about who realistically has a shot. It's shaping up to be an awesome field.
DP:Most money you ever spent on a classic car?
TS: I spent $155,000 at Barrett-Jackson [an auction house] on a '55 Chevy Nomad wagon.
DP:You still have it?
TS: Yep, and to me it's worth every penny I spent.
DP:Do you still have the Smokey and the Bandit car?
TS: If I have to get rid of my collection, that is the last car to go.
DP:So if you have to get out, you're getting out in that car?
TS: Oh, yeah. I don't drive it much. I'm so scared to put a nick in the paint. I don't want anything to happen to that car. We need to get our football player and let him ride in that thing with me. I promise you, I could change his mind.
Now Hear This
Listen to the podcasts at danpatrick.com
1. Marshall Faulk weighs in on the new CBA and the Hall of Fame.
2. Steve Carell on his latest film and what's next for The Office.
THE FINE PRINT: With a lockout threatening the coming season, the NBA released a 2011--12 schedule ... of flights departing for Europe.
• Swing Away
The Phillies reportedly want to add a hitter to protect Ryan Howard in the lineup. Ironically, MLB Network analyst Mitch Williams thinks Howard's penchant for striking out (tied for third in MLB, with 110 K's) has covered up deficiencies in their lineup. "The fact that Ryan Howard has 75 RBIs right now is a testament to pitchers' ignorance," Williams told me. "Pitchers continue to pitch to Howard because they think they can strike him out. If he stops striking out, they're going to stop pitching to him."
• Labor Pains
Players and owners expressed a sense of triumph at the end of the NFL lockout. But we polled our listeners, and 43% were "indifferent," compared with 11% who were "elated." That doesn't mean fans don't want a season. They didn't celebrate because they didn't want to hear about the lockout in the first place. Callers repeatedly told me they wanted football ... not details of a work stoppage that was out of their control.
• Line of the week
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb on trade rumors: "I'm the first one to tell you, I had my shot and it didn't work out. That's why I've got to go prove myself somewhere else if that opportunity presents itself."