It’s a dangerous thing when anyone compares a present NASCAR driver to Dale Earnhardt Sr. It’s almost like comparing someone to Michael Jordan or Bear Bryant. No matter what they do, they’ll never match all that those icons were able to do.
But Tony Stewart is treading close to Earnhardt territory not only on the track, but off it.
Like Earnhardt, Stewart has won multiple championships, gained a reputation as being an aggressive driver on the track and still seeks a Daytona 500 victory (Earnhardt finally won Daytona in 1998 after 20 years of trying).
And then there is this – that after Sunday’s Daytona 500, Stewart visited fans injured in as a result of the wreck near the end of Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race. Here’s the thing, though. There were no cameras, and Stewart didn’t appear to be doing it for attention. The visit was only reported after word was leaked to ESPN and Stewart’s camp confirmed that he did indeed visit the hospital.
This wasn’t a PR / image friendly TV spot. This was an ambassador of a sport saying, ‘get well soon and keep your head up,’ so to speak.
It’s not too different from what Dale Earnhardt was known for. There are stories within NASCAR from when Earnhardt was alive where there would be a family in need and Earnhardt would help them – only if everyone agreed not to let anyone know he was behind it.
Within two hours, one driver may have done more than any statement at press conference could ever do.