I Did Not Assault Anyone
September 7, 2002 | 12:00 A.M. EST
The unnamed woman said Stewart shoved her “in the pit area immediately following the race,” the Sullivan County (Tenn.) Sheriff’s Department said Friday.
Stewart said in a statement released by his agents that it would be “inappropriate for me to comment in any great deal until law enforcement officials have completed their investigation.” But Stewart denied the alleged incident.
“I am confident that once the investigation is complete, I will be cleared of any and all accusations,” Stewart said. “I will say, however, that I did not assault anyone. In fact, I am shocked and truly at a loss as to why someone would make such an allegation.”
Stewart’s car owner, Joe Gibbs, also addressed the media at Richmond International Raceway before Saturday night’s Monte Carlo 400. Like Stewart, he said the team was cooperating with authorities but also said he conducted his own investigation.
“After the Bristol race, the next week, we became aware that there was an upset fan,” Gibbs said. “At that point, I went and talked to everybody that was with Tony from the time he was at the car after the race until he got to the hauler and got out of the hauler. We did have somebody assigned to be with him. I went and talked to those people. Basically, what they all told me was they saw nothing out of the ordinary. At that point, I just dropped it and figured that was the end of it.”
But it wasn’t. The woman pursued the matter with the sheriff’s department.
“We want every single thing, whatever it is, truthfully to be said about this,” Gibbs said. “We would like for it all to be out in the open, and in every way, we want to try and cooperate.
“Whatever the facts are, the facts are.”
Gibbs wouldn’t speculate on what might happen should Stewart be charged or convicted. And he said no actions are being taken against Stewart now.
Stewart has had a few controversial incidents the last two years, including the shoving of a photographer after the Brickyard 400. Stewart was fined by NASCAR and his sponsor and placed on probation by both.
That prompted Stewart to apologize and seek anger-management help. Also, it prompted Gibbs to assign someone to be with Stewart at the race track, and there was someone with Stewart at Bristol.
“We wanted to make sure we had somebody there,” Gibbs said. “The bottom line is, we were concerned because we were in the situation where we couldn’t afford anything else to happen.”