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Allen impressed with Stewart's acting skills

February 14, 2012, Joe Menzer,

Three-time Cup Series champ has guest role on ABC comedy 'Last Man Standing'

When it came right down to it, Tim Allen was more impressed with Tony Stewart's acting skills than Stewart was with Allen's impersonation of a race-car driver.

But it was all in good fun, which NASCAR fans can judge for themselves at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday when Stewart, the defending Sprint Cup champion, appears on the ABC situation comedy Last Man Standing, starring veteran actor Allen. The episode of the show actually was taped Jan. 16-17 in Los Angeles.

Smoke goes Hollywood

Get a behind-the-scenes look as Tony Stewart guest stars on ABC's "Last Man Standing" with Tim Allen.

"I just got excited because I heard 'donuts,' and I thought I was going to get to eat," Stewart joked.

Actually, Allen was the one who got to attempt donuts in Stewart's No. 14 Chevrolet. Allen said he didn't want to reveal too much of the plot of the episode in advance, but he admitted to doing the donuts -- and not the kind with powdered sugar or frosting on top.

"We are thrilled with the episode. It turned out to be everything we wanted. I don't want to sabotage it, because it's just like a race and I want people to watch it to see how it plays out," Allen said. "All I'll say is that they let me do donuts in his car and I was hitting 10 grand (in RPMs) and lifting valves. I was so concentrating on hitting my spots that Tony got in there and said, 'Did you hear that? You were floating the valves. You're really not supposed to hear a noise like that from this engine.' And I was like, 'Oh.'

"But whoever built it built a good motor, because it didn't blow. ... My crew was impressed that I was able to do the donuts."

Likewise, Allen said he was impressed with Stewart's professionalism and acting abilities during the shoot. In the episode entitled Adrenaline, Allen's character Mike gets Stewart -- who appears as himself -- to make an appearance with his race car to help "jazz up" the Outdoor Man retail space in a promotion. After Stewart tells no one to so much as touch his car, well, things get a little out of hand.

Allen, a former race-car driver himself, said he insisted that Stewart bring "a real car" to the show.

"Tony's car worked out perfect. He worked out perfect," said Allen, who will serve as grand marshal for the Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 11. "He kind of reminds me of me. He's getting up there [in age], but he does a lot of things well. And you know why he does a lot of things well? Because he concentrates on the job every minute of every day he's working.

"There was no denying it. He showed up on time every day. He was good to my crew, good to the people around him. He carried the script around with him and watched, listened, learned. What looks like a very easy thing is not really that easy. He just made it look easy. He did some good work and got the jokes."

Allen drove Trans-Ams for five years in what was then called the World Challenge series, finishing as high as third despite usually starting in the back of the field because more often than not he was on a set somewhere filming a movie or television show when qualifying was held on Fridays. He said he is good friends with Mario and Michael Andretti of IndyCar fame and that the famous father-son racing duo helped him.

"We are thrilled with the episode. It turned out to be everything we wanted."


"We could do a buck-ninety on the straightaways. We were getting up in that range," Allen said. "I had some good mentors. Michael and Mario Andretti were there for me. Mostly they broke my balls about how slow I was.

"But I braked late, which was a good trait to have, and I was pretty good in traffic, which I had to be because I almost always missed qualifying and had to start in the back."

Allen once surprised another NASCAR champion with his skills on the race track. After hosting a NASCAR event prior to a race at Auto Club Speedway, Allen was permitted to follow Rusty Wallace around in a stock car on the 2-mile track.

"Rusty didn't realize I had some experience. I stuck right with him and I think he was pretty surprised by that," Allen said. "I had been near walls before, but not at that speed and angle. That's a little intimidating at first.

"Rusty got out of the car and said, 'You were right behind me for a while, like almost in an irritating way. Now let me get you out there with 42 other cars.' That would be a big step up, I admit."

It was a similarly big step for Stewart to get in front of the camera for the sit-com appearance that will be displayed before the nation. But Stewart said he gradually became comfortable with it.

"This is something that obviously is a little bit out of our comfort zone -- because we're used to being in a uniform in a 3,400-pound stock car. So to come [to Los Angeles] and do TV is something that's pretty fun," Stewart said. "It's exciting to do something different and get out of that norm a little bit."

Allen said he experienced a similar feeling when he got to do the donuts behind the wheel of Stewart's race car. Then Stewart had a message for the actor after Allen climbed from the car.

"I get out of the car and Tony goes, 'My sister could do a better job than that," said Allen, chuckling. "That was a real confidence builder."

It sounds like perhaps Allen taught Stewart the art of delivering a timely one-liner a little too well.