Tony Stewart doesn't expect his Bristol run-in with Matt Kenseth to play a role in this year's championship. In fact, three days removed from the collision that took both drivers out of contention in the Irwin Tools Night Race, Stewart would much rather forget about Kenseth.
After the wreck on lap 332 of 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, and after nailing the nose of Kenseth's Ford with a perfectly delivered helmet toss, Stewart promised to run over Kenseth every chance he got for the rest of the season. But, by the time Stewart showed up at Charlotte Motor Speedway for Tuesday's "Choose Tony's Ride with Mobil 1" – at which he drove Tyler McQuarrie's Chevrolet Camaro Formula Drift car and a World War II-vintage tank – a cooler head had prevailed. In other words, Stewart says he doesn't plan to single out Kenseth for abuse over the next 12 races.
"No more than anybody else," Stewart said. "I can't guarantee that anything's not going to happen, but it's not our intention to go seek him out."
The defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion indicated he hasn't spoken to Kenseth since the incident.
"And we won't, probably," Stewart said. "It's not a big drama if we don't. We know what we expect out of each other. We'll go on to the weekend like we always do. We've been racing each other for 15 years now – it's not like we've not been through this before....
"We both have teams that are capable of going out and winning the championship. You can either spend your time worrying about him, or you can spend time worrying about how to win a championship. I find it more productive to try to figure out how to win a championship, and I'm pretty sure he's thinking the same way."
Stewart was more interested in singing the praises of Danica Patrick In her fourth Cup series start on Saturday night, Patrick kept her car intact for more than 100 laps longer than Stewart did, but, late in the race, Patrick spun into the inside front stretch wall after contact with Regan Smith's Chevrolet.
"I was really impressed," said Stewart, who is fielding a Cup car for Patrick in 10 races this season and full time next year. "I think Darlington (Patrick's second Cup start) and Bristol have far exceeded my expectations. When we got our laps down (after the wreck with Kenseth), I got out there and got behind her and just followed her, and I thought she ran a really good line.
"You could see her moving around, searching to try to find things. I don't think I made it that many laps my rookie races at Bristol in a Cup car. She did a really good job until somebody just parked her for no reason. It was disappointing from that standpoint, but I was happy that she got that many laps in. That's a lot of experience there in one night. That's more laps that she got in the Nationwide car the whole weekend."
Incidentally, Stewart hasn't recovered the helmet he threw at Kenseth's car, though he concedes it could be a great item for a charity auction. After the contact with Kenseth's car, Stewart said the helmet would be unsafe to use in competition.