NASCAR drivers are notoriously known for “squeezing” their opponents during the race, but it appears Tony Stewart has taken the term to a new level.
It all happened live on ESPN prior to last Sunday’s GEICO 400, at Chicagoland Speedway. Stewart walks up to DeLana Harvick, wife of NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick, and greets her with a hug. In the video clip seen on CNN, and already making the rounds around the Internet, Stewart grabs hold of Harvick’s butt cheek, gives it a little squeeze and walks away.
All the parties seem to have enjoyed the moment as Stewart turns back around and rejoins the Harvicks and all are laughing, including Kevin who was only a few feet away during “butt-gate.”
Blogger Jeff Gluck, at SB Nation, says “the whole thing was a case of no harm, no foul.” It was however caught on the TV broadcast of the pre-race festivities. SB Nation’s Aaron Rosser says Stewart is more than a friend of the Harvicks, who go as far as referring to Stewart as “Uncle Tony.”
Apparently, it is all in fun for Stewart, who uses the "pre-race ritual" as a way to bring him good luck.
At the end of the race, Stewart had the upper hand. He finished sixth in the race, while Harvick wound up in 12th.
If the butt-cheek incident was Stewart’s way of wishing the Harvicks good luck, perhaps grabbing his opponent’s hand for a shake would have been more appropriate.
Stewart and Harvick go head-to-head again when NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup resumes in New Hampshire, on Sept. 23.