BRISTOL, Tenn. - Don't expect to see Tony Stewart at a Goodyear tire test anytime soon. And his exclusion from the elite sessions has nothing to do with his recent rant against the company.
Goodyear officials said Friday they weren't happy with Stewart's effort when he participated in a tire test for them last December in Las Vegas.
"He was there, but I would say he probably really wasn't involved. He wasn't into it," said Greg Stucker, director of race tire sales. "If he's not going to be more constructive than he has been recently or was at that test, no, he won't get another test.
"We look for people that want to be engaged, that provide us with feedback, to be there to do what we need."
Stewart tested with Jeff Burton, Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth in Las Vegas, and Stucker said the two-time series champion made it clear he would have rather been "someplace else, and he really wasn't very cooperative as far as giving us feedback."
Stewart admitted Friday he was a reluctant participant in that test session. Drained from the long season and coming off the awards ceremony in New York, he indeed didn't want to be in Las Vegas.
"I had to go out the day before, and we stayed two days to tire-test," he said. "It was into our holiday season. That was three days I would have rather spent with my friends and family that I don't get a chance to see enough anyway. I actually had something else planned that I wanted to go do and had to cancel it because of the test."
Asked if it wasn't his job to give his best effort when asked to test tires for the company, Stewart said "I don't work for Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co."
Stewart has had a rocky relationship with Goodyear for years, and is often vocal in his criticism of the tire company. He took it to a new level last week when he blasted the company following Sunday's race in Atlanta.
Although many drivers agreed the Atlanta tire wasn't suitable for racing conditions, none were as brutal in their assessment as Stewart was.
Stewart hadn't backed down by Friday.
"We all can't be wrong. Not all of us can be wrong about it all the time. You hate that it's come to this, but that's what happened," he said. "I don't want to hear what they're doing, I don't want to hear what they want to do, I don't want to hear what they're planning on doing - I just want to see what happens and see what the end result of that is.
"As long as that's a better deal then we'll be back on their side. But they have some work to do."
Stewart had a peaceful meeting with Goodyear general manager Stu Grant that both sides deemed positive on Friday.
And, if Stewart wants to someday participate in another tire test, the company would consider his involvement.
"If Tony is interested in doing that in the future, and we get over this little hurdle, then by all means we'd be happy to do that," Stucker said. "But we've got a hurdle to get over first."
Asked if the two sides could move past this disagreement, Stucker said he hoped so.
"That's up to Tony, as well as us," he said. "We don't take his comments lightly, there's no question about that, from everybody here at the race track all the way up to top management, we take it very seriously. We'll try to get through it."