NASCAR News: Tony Stewart Claims Dale Earnhardt’s Death Robbed NASCAR of Driver Etiquette

Published 01/16/2024, 6:36 AM EST

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Tony Stewart was witness to the deaths of some of the legendary names in the sport—Tony Roper, Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin Jr., and Dale Earnhardt—over a matter of just 10 months from 2000-01. Even today, if the debate of choosing driver etiquette over competitiveness presents itself, Tony Stewart is a firm believer of the former. Over the years, that line may have blurred and Stewart believes that it all started back in 2001.

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“It was always an etiquette thing with me. And what I was taught was ‘this is acceptable and this is not acceptable’. Well, as soon as we lost Dale Sr, we started losing all of that. Soon as he went away, all the etiquette started going away. Jeff (Burton) was the one who kind of kept control of everybody. The hard part is there is nobody in that role now,” Smoke opined in the Hot Rod Pod.

Stewart came into the NASCAR Cup Series just a couple of years before the Intimidator’s tragic crash at Daytona. Which means he has been a witness to both eras firsthand. He revealed who some of his most valuable teachers were in stock car racing. Painting a contrast, he also shared his strong opinion about the “New Guys”, who, as per him, are “simple-minded” and “tunnel-visioned.”

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Tony Stewart talks about his heroes as he bashes up-and-comers in the 2000s

While the SHR team owner did not drop any names, he pointed out the aspects of the sport that got on his nerves, causing him to lose his calm “The things that always made me mad… It was about etiquette. It was about what Dale Sr, Dale Jarrett, Mark Martin, Bobby Labonte, Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon… what all these veteran drivers taught me when I came into NASCAR,” the 3-time Cup Series champion said.

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He then proceeded to take a jab at the up-and-coming drivers of the early 2000s by saying, “Then you got all of these new guys coming in and they don’t care about etiquette. They’re simple-minded, they have tunnel vision, they don’t give a cr*p about anybody but themselves and now you look at the racing, nobody gives an inch,” the Stewart-Haas Racing boss added.

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Dale Earnhardt Sr seemed to have left a big impact on the 3-time Cup Series champion. Tony Stewart believes that driving etiquette went out of the window after ‘The Man in Black’ passed away.

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Some fans may suggest that the former Cup Series champion is being too hard on the current crop of drivers. The competition indeed is a lot higher and there is no reason for a driver to not take an opportunity if it presents itself. For instance, a driver goes for a gap, regardless of the risks. However, it is hard to disagree that a lack of respect between the drivers, especially in the lower levels of NASCAR, has plagued the sport.

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Written by:

Nilavro Ghosh

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Edited by:

Ariva Debnath

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