Some reporters found Tony to be hard to deal with, but I never did. The first time I talked to Tony was in the 1990s when he was taking a Busch Series (now Xfinity) ride with Joe Gibbs' team. The story was for a track program magazine, and the team's PR guy or gal hooked me up with both driver and owner for phone interviews. Both interviews went well, and I enjoyed the whole thing immensely.
Boring, I know, but what can you do? Sometimes boring is good in the newspaper business.
I also remember one time we were at Charlotte Motor Speedway's infield media center, and Tony was going to be the next person to be interviewed by the press. He came through the door and was obviously nervous heading into the group setting; he was a young driver back then.
Two or three of us stood on the side with Tony and listened to whoever was at the podium, and Tony talked to us for several minutes. I guess it calmed him for his ordeal.
Other than quick interviews, I had one other encounter with Tony that I remember. It came during the 2003 (and last) Winston Cup Preview in Winston-Salem, N.C. I wrote about it on this blog; I called it Tell them Tony sent you.
It went well, too.
Also about Tony Stewart: Tell them Tony sent you
(a book of great stories about the Intimidator)
(the book of great NASCAR stories)
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