Stewart says all well with Zippy after recent spat
NEW YORK Tony Stewart said Wednesday all is well between the two-time champion and crew chief Greg Zipadelli despite their post-race squabble at Richmond.
Stewart criticized Zipadelli and his crew as he pulled onto pit road following Sunday's second-place finish at Richmond International Raceway. He blamed the team for the loss — he gave up the lead during a late pit stop and was unable to catch winner Jimmie Johnson in the closing laps — and Zipadelli sharply reminded him they win and lose as a group.
"I don't know why everybody is making such a big deal about it," Stewart said during NASCAR's media day for the Chase for the championship. "That's two guys that were talking on the radio that are competitive and don't like to lose. I'd much rather have a crew chief that gets as fired up as me than I would a guy that said 'Yeah, yeah, it's OK.'
"That was a particular day where we had a winning car and we ended up second, and how we ended up there wasn't acceptable."
The in-car audio was replayed several times by ESPN, a network that has had a contentious relationship with Stewart since it returned to NASCAR coverage last season. But Stewart said he was not upset with ESPN for airing the argument.
"It's no secret that ESPN and I don't get along, and anytime we do anything that they can use to make us look bad, they jump all over it," he said. "That's fine, it doesn't even bother us anymore. But they have brought a lot of great things to the sport, and that's the kind of things that make it more exciting for the fans.
"To be able to hear (the audio) and understand the disappointment — if I get out of the car and (fans) didn't hear that, then they don't understand why I was upset."
Stewart has had a frustrating season, his last with Joe Gibbs Racing and Zipadelli. He's leaving at the end of the year to own a race team, and the impending move was thought to have been a source of contention for the 10-year-old team.
He's currently in a 40-race winless streak, and has had several heartbreaking defeats this season dating back to the Daytona 500. It's led to many showings of frustration for the passionate driver, who insisted those emotions are what's contributed to his success.
"If you are not passionate and you don't stand up and get frustrated — you show me a guy who doesn't get frustrated once in a while and I'll show you a guy I can beat nine weeks out of 10 every year for the rest of my life," he said.
He also insisted that he and Zipadelli have not tired of each other after 10 seasons. Zipadelli is staying at JGR after Stewart leaves to crew chief Joey Logano next season.
"We want to win as a team, we want to finish strong," he said. "We want to get this monkey off our back. It's frustration of having a bad year."