Despite a lengthy simmer-down lecture in the NASCAR hauler last weekend in Indianapolis, it appears the animosity is still alive and well between Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer.
It all started a couple of weeks ago at Pocono, when Stewart responded to being crowded by Bowyer with an abrupt left turn into the side of Bowyer's Richard Childress Racing/Jack Daniels Chevrolet. The impact sent Bowyer careening into innocent bystander Edwards, whose Office Depot Ford suffered sufficient damage to render it non-competitive for the remainder of the afternoon.
Stewart was promptly (and correctly) docked a lap by NASCAR for rough driving; a sanction that probably should have put an end to the incident, once and for all. Unfortunately, it didn't. When Edwards pulled alongside Stewart's Home Depot Chevrolet to express his displeasure under an ensuing caution period, the defending Nextel Cup champion responded in vintage Stewart fashion, whipping Edwards the old "You're Number One" salute.
Ordinarily the calm, serene type, Edwards reacted the way most people would after being:
A) caught up in an intentional wreck that had nothing to do with him, and...
B) told via sign language to attempt self-impregnation.
Edwards punted Stewart as they headed for pit road, drawing his own rough-riding sanction from NASCAR, and triggering a session of back-and-forth accusations and name-calling that shows no signs of dying down, more than a week after the fact.
Stewart claimed that the issue had been put to rest last week, saying that all parties had spoken and agreed to make peace. Edwards begged to differ, saying the only words he wanted to hear from Stewart were, "I'm sorry." In response, the Nextel Cup champion popped off again this weekend, calling Edwards "the Eddie Haskell of NASCAR. None of us are perfect," said Stewart. "Carl isn't perfect, and I'm not perfect. Clint is the only one who didn't do anything too terribly wrong."
Edwards returned fire, saying, "Tony's just a moron. He still will not admit he did anything wrong. Name-calling and all that? He's a great driver, but he's got a lot to learn."
For the record, that was Carl Edwards criticizing Tony Stewart's penchant for name-calling... by calling Stewart a name. It doesn't get any better than this, campers.
On the final lap yesterday at the Brickyard, Bowyer and Stewart nearly wadded `em up again, with Kasey Kahne riding out a scary, high-speed shunt into the SAFER barrier. After the checkered flag, Bowyer opened up with both barrels again, calling the crash, "another close call with Tony. I guess he ain't learned nothing," added Bowyer. "NASCAR told us to stay away from each other and give each other respect. He put me three-wide and knocked me into Vickers or whoever it was. He still ain't learned."
Kahne gave a slightly tamer version of the crash, saying, "I got loose trying to pass Stewart. I just tried staying off Tony, and I guess I ran into the wall.”
No matter whose version is correct, the end result is the same.
NASCAR has enjoyed some great feuds over the years. Richard Petty and Bobby Allison wrecked quite a few cars evening their own personal scorecards in the 1960s, and young Darrell Waltrip's verbal battles with Old Lion Cale Yarborough made the `70s worth paying attention to. Yarborough and the Allison Brothers had a little dustup at Daytona one year that you might have heard of, too.
Now, we've got Stewart versus Edwards, with a side order of Bowyer for dessert. And as NASCAR gets set for its third playoff season, the scenario could not be more appetizing.