Tony Stewart fined, fellow-drivers want to pick up tab
Tony Stewart (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)
By AMANDA VINCENT
On the same day (Thursday) that Tony Stewart announced his return, as a driver, to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition Sunday at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway and NASCAR granted a waiver, allowing the three-time champion to compete for a Chase for the Sprint Cup berth, the sanctioning body welcomed him back with a $35,000 fine. The fine came as a result of comments made by Stewart on Wednesday regarding NASCAR’s elimination of an old rule requiring pit crews tighten all five lug nuts on wheels.
Stewart’s comments included:
“I guarantee you that envelope is going to keep getting pushed until somebody gets hurt. You will not have heard a rant that’s going to be as bad as what’s going to come out of my mouth if a driver gets hurt because of a loose wheel that hurts one of them. With all the crap we’re going through with all the safety stuff, and for them to sit there and sit on their hands on this one, this is not a game you play with safety, and that’s exactly the way I feel like NASCAR is treating this. This is not the way to do this.”
NASCAR considers Stewart’s comments to be in violation of section 12.8.1 of the 2016 rule book that allows the sanctioning body to issue fines ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 for comments that disparage the sport and/or participants.
Other drivers and competitors in other capacities have voiced similar concerns without penalty. On Thursday evening, fellow driver Denny Hamlin issued a statement to NBC Sports
on behalf of the Sprint Cup Drivers Council established by NASCAR last year. According to the statement, the council plans to help pay Stewart’s fine.
“We as drivers believe Tony has the right to speak his opinion on topics that pertain to a sport that he has spent nearly two decades helping build as both a driver and an owner. While we do not condone drivers lashing out freely at NASCAR, we do feel Tony was in his rights to state his opinion. We as a Council support him and do not agree with the fine. Therefore, we fellow council members have agreed to contribute equally to paying his fine.”