Stewart Pays For Tirade
July 11, 2001 | 12:00 A.M. EST
For the second time this season, NASCAR has fined the driver of the No. 20 Pontiac $10,000 for “actions deemed by NASCAR officials as detrimental to stock-car racing.” The fine stems from Stewart’s reaction to a penalty imposed by NASCAR during last Saturday night’s Winston Cup Series Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway in which Stewart went below the yellow line on the race track.
The penalty cost Stewart 20 positions in the finishing order and, according to published reports, prompted Stewart to confront Winston Cup Series Director Gary Nelson as well as a member of the motorsports media.
In addition to the fine, Stewart had his probation, which had first been imposed for an incident at Bristol in March with Jeff Gordon, extended from Aug. 29 until Nov. 21, three days after the end of the 2001 season. A NASCAR release said any “further violation of this probation may subject Stewart to a fine and/or loss of championship points, and/or loss of finishing positions in an event and/or suspension from NASCAR."
Stewart is also required to issue a formal apology to the media member for his actions, as well as issue a formal apology to NASCAR fans.
The penalty was supposed to be handed down on Tuesday, but NASCAR officials decided to wait until Wednesday out of respect for Stewart’s family. Stewart’s grandfather passed away over the weekend and the funeral was held Tuesday.
With four laps remaining in the Saturday night’s Pepsi 400, Stewart drove below the yellow line, a line in which NASCAR officials warned drivers not to cross during the prerace drivers meeting. NASCAR officials black-flagged Stewart for the incident, but Stewart failed to report to pit road, crossing the finish line in sixth place.
After the race, according to published reports, Stewart was approached by the media member and asked about the incident, resulting in Stewart’s slapping the media member’s tape recorder out of his hand and kicking it underneath one of the team haulers.
Stewart then went to the NASCAR hauler to complain about the call, and according to the reports, had to be restrained by his car owner, Joe Gibbs, and crew chief Greg Zipadelli.
In March, Stewart got together with Gordon late in the race and Stewart wrecked, causing him to place well down in the finishing order. After the race, Stewart came onto pit road and hit Gordon's car from behind, spinning Gordon around.
He was then hit with a $10,000 fine and the first probation was imposed.
Stewart is currently fourth in the Winston Cup standings, 201 points behind Gordon.