Originally written on Race Review Online  |  Last updated 9/30/14
Tony Stewart was one unhappy man following Saturday night's Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway. Although Stewart has mellowed considerably since becoming an owner-driver in 2009, the sport's reigning champion still has a temper to match his nickname of "Smoke." And you could almost see the smoke coming from his ears after a late debris caution—for a plastic water bottle—foiled what seemed to be a certain victory for Stewart. In the media center after the race, Stewart gave a terse reply to a question from a reporter about that final caution flag. "Tony, I think you got a water bottle out out there. Was it a water bottle that brought out the debris?" "That's what it looked like to me," Stewart responded. "I mean, it was out of the groove. It had been sitting there for eight laps." Read between the lines, and Stewart was making a thinly veiled accusation that NASCAR was looking for any way to make the end of the race more interesting, and after a while finally settled on the water bottle as an excuse for a phantom caution to bunch up the field at the end of a largely caution-free event. Anyone looking for more evidence that Stewart's blood was at the boiling point only had to wait for the next question, as a reporter asked whether "the fact that this is the third straight race there has been no wreck, does that amaze you? Have you ever seen anything like that?" "Only you would think about stuff like that," Stewart said. "I don't know what you think of during the race but I try to figure out how to win the race and make my car go fast. I don't sit there and think of that petty crap you think of. Glad to see you're back to form." For the umpteenth time in his career, Stewart came out swinging and cut a reporter down to size.
Carl Edwards was also justifiably unhappy following Saturday night’s event. Edwards is trying to break a winless streak stretching back to February 2011 at Las Vegas. He flat-out dominated the Capital City 400, leading 206 of 400 laps. However, Edwards was penalized by NASCAR for jumping a restart after lining up outside Tony Stewart with fewer than 100 laps to go. Edwards and his team couldn’t believe the penalty, as they thought they were the leader due to the scoring tower showing the No. 99 atop the leaderboard. Nevertheless, Edwards was forced to give up the lead and serve a pass-through penalty, and he was lapped by Stewart during the ensuing green-flag run. He eventually got his lap back and finished a respectable ninth, but it was a case of what-could-have-been for Edwards at Richmond. "We had to just agree to disagree, and that's the way it is,” Edwards said. “They run the sport, and they do the best job they can, and I drive a race car and do the very best job I can…This whole thing is very frustrating. I don't feel like we did the wrong thing." It was a night of frustrations for the two drivers who dominated the race. Both Edwards and Stewart were upset with NASCAR for the way the sanctioning body handled a couple of controversial incidents, but more often than not, that’s the way it goes with short-track racing.
PLAYERS: Carl Edwards
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