ASA/CRA Super Series
Bubba Pollard is Having Fun and Returning to the Redbud
Jul 14, 2022
True to his word, Tony Stewart gave the Superstar Racing Experience roster ‘the dad talk’ a week after an explosive race at South Boston Speedway created internal strife and left several cars severely damaged.
The three-time Cup Series champion won the race but left the Commonwealth of Virginia less proud and more frustrated after numerous examples of reckless driving and retaliatory contact.
"It's more the feeling of needing to have a drivers meeting," Stewart said. "I am excited and honored to race with these guys but some of them, there are some habits they have from other divisions they run that aren't acceptable in short track racing.
"We need to understand that we're tearing stuff up that we don't have enough manpower to fix these cars and maintain this kind of pace for six weeks. If we want to have good cars to drive, we have to take care of it better. We have to take care of each other better on the race track. That doesn't mean you don't race hard and try to win but there has got to be a better way than the way we're doing it."
Stewart said they would have a drivers meeting the next weekend at Stafford Motor Speedway and then a drivers meeting after the drivers meeting behind closed doors and SRX CEO Donald Hawk said ‘Smoke’ was true to his word that afternoon.
"We had the dad talk, the father talk, the uncle talk, the brother-in-law talk, the brother talk; we had a family reunion," Hawk said. "I'm telling you, but here's what's neat about it: Tony Stewart didn't dominate the conversation.
"Every single driver in the motor home spoke up at least once, and it was a great dialogue and a great interaction and what I believed to be a great car race."
Indeed, Stafford was a considerably cleaner show and so was Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway last weekend to close out the pavement portion of the second season schedule before two dirt races at I-55 and Sharon Speedway.
Bobby Labonte, who won the race on Saturday night at Nashville, said that everyone took responsibility for various things that happened at Pensacola and South Boston and vowed to be more thoughtful.
"Don said it right," Labonte said. "Everyone spoke up and listen, we're all responsible for ourselves on the race track and we want to race hard and race to win, but we also know there's an invert. And when you do that, you might get into someone, and what happened at South Boston isn't going to be beneficial for everything -- the retaliation and what not.
"Michael (Waltrip) had great things to say, Marco (Andretti) had great things to say and everyone did. I think from South Boston forward -- we reached a conclusion that it's okay if we tear a car up from racing hard but don't do it for no reason."
It's important to remember that SRX has only 15 cars, and only 12 or 13 of them race at a time, so when a race like South Boston happens and over half of them get nearly destroyed, it impacted the FURY Race Cars pit crew tasked with preparing them for race day.
It also put the company behind on servicing its Super Late Model customers as well. The turnaround time from race to race is so short that Tony Eury Jr. Ryan McKinney and Jeff Fultz struggled to get the cars ready for Stafford in time.
The ‘family reunion’ was necessary from that standpoint.
The South Boston race featured a damaged Paul Tracy threatening to back up to the leaders and wad up Helio Castroneves. Stewart climbed out of the car during the halftime break and confronted Ernie Francis Jr., gabbing the young sports car champion by the collar to illustrate a point about race craft.
Francis said that was diffused within five minutes, and they later shook hands and laughed about it.
"We talked on the phone a few times too, and looking forward to this weekend too," Francis said. "We were all racing extremely hard throughout the field. Some feathers got ruffled but not too bad."
Like all things SRX, there is a balance to be struck between authentic hard racing and carnage marred entertainment. The boss drew the line after South Boston.