Stewart Has A Fine Week

The fallout continues for Tony Stewart after his incident Sunday after the Brickyard 400. Thursday, two days after NASCAR fined him $10,000 and put him on probation until Dec. 31, sponsor The Home Depot announced it was fining Stewart $50,000 and also placing him on probation.

The fine will be donated to the United Way of Central Indiana after Home Depot officials consulted with The Indianapolis Star-News. Freelance photographer Gary Mook, whom Stewart shoved after the race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, was on assignment for the Star-News.

“Tony Stewart’s actions following the Brickyard 400 do not at all represent the values and beliefs of the over 290,000 associates who comprise the backbone and spirit of The Home Depot,” said Hugh Miskel, director of sales promotion for The Home Depot. “We value our relationship with the media, fans and competitors of NASCAR, and the behavior displayed following the Brickyard 400 will not be tolerated from any member of our race team now or in the future.”

In a statement released Thursday afternoon, Stewart offered his apology. He also is making arrangements to speak with Mook, and according to a press release, Stewart has “initiated steps to seek help with anger management.”

“This was my heart attack, my wake-up call,” Stewart said. There is no excuse for what I’ve done. I’m very sorry, and I don’t really expect anyone to forgive me.

“Meeting with Mr. Mook is now my first priority. He didn’t deserve any of this, and my apology to him needs to come face-to-face, as soon as possible.”

Stewart faded to a 12th-place finish at Indy, his favorite track on the circuit. Stewart started on the pole, led several laps and ran well most of the day. After the race, he parked his car between two garages, crawled out and headed to his motorhome. Mook walked beside him, and when Stewart speeded up, Mook ran to get ahead and started to take pictures. Stewart then shoved Mook in the chest.

That was the latest of Stewart’s troubles. Last year after the Pepsi 400, when he was black-flagged for passing under the yellow line, Stewart slapped a tape recorder out of a reporter’s hand and kicked it. He was fined and had his probation extended – he was previously put on probation for punting Jeff Gordon on pit road after a race at Bristol.

“I know I have a problem with keeping my emotions in check,” Stewart said. “After all of this, I’ve felt as low as I’ve ever felt. But it’s probably exactly what I needed to make me seek help. A hard fall like this will tend to jar you back to reality. I’m looking forward to making myself better… better as a person and better in dealing with the things life sends your way - the good and the bad.”

A published report earlier in the week said Stewart could possibly be out of the No. 20 Pontiac by this weekend, but that’s not the case.

“We support Tony Stewart and Joe Gibbs Racing and we will help provide any and all resources needed to see this situation through,” The Home Depot director of sales promotion Hugh Miskel said. “We have always viewed our sponsorship with Joe Gibbs Racing and our relationship with Tony Stewart as a partnership, and despite the events of the past week, those beliefs have not changed. We remain committed to Tony Stewart and Joe Gibbs Racing.”

And Gibbs said he remains committed to Stewart, too.

“He knows he needs help in controlling his emotions and we’re going to do all we can to help and support him,” Gibbs said. “All of our resources, as well as the resources of Home Depot, have been made available to Tony. He has been an integral part of this race team for almost five years now, and we want him to be an integral part of our organization for many years to come. We’re confident incidents such as this one are in the past and won’t be repeated in the future.”

Stewart’s crew chief, Greg Zipadelli, said the latest incident can bring the team closer together.

“This has been a tough experience for all of us, but I’m also a firm believer that all of this can only make us better,” Zipadelli said. “Tony has made that first step, admitting he has a problem and needs help, and we’re going to do all we can to support him. I’m going to be there as a friend, and we’re all going to make this work. No one is ever alone on this race team. It’s a pretty tight-knit group that has always rallied and endured the tough times. Tony knows that.

“For us, the best medicine is racing, and there’s a lot of racing left. Tony is going to do what he needs to do off the track and we’re going to do everything we need to do on the track. We’re all in this together, and we’re going to come out of it together, too.”

Staff Writer Lee Montgomery can be reached at

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