NASCAR officials were none too happy with
comments Tony Stewart made during his weekly satellite radio
show on Tuesday where he compared the sanctioning body to pro
wrestling and let him know it – calling the two-time Nextel Cup
champion to a closed-door meeting with NASCAR’s top brass on
Friday morning at Talladega Speedway.
Officials greeted Stewart’s no. 20 Home Depot
team hauler as they arrived at Talladega on 6am Friday and
informed the team they would not be allowed to unload until
Stewart met with them.
Following the meeting, NASCAR announced it has
fined Stewart $10,000 and placed him on probation until Dec. 31
– not for his comments on Tuesday, but for refusing to address
the media following his second-place finish at Phoenix Int’l
Raceway last Saturday.
Afterwards, a contrite Stewart addressed the media, saying his
comments were unfair and hurt the integrity of the sport.
“It's a little tender for me to sit down right now,” joked
Stewart. “The meeting this morning was a good meeting. The group
that I spoke with this morning is a group of peers that I trust.
If they tell me that the stuff is out there, I believe them.
“It's hard sometimes when you don't see it and there are a lot
of times we don't see it and I questioned that. But I think
their approach was logical. Instead of doing it in the way I did
it - I should have went to them instead of just saying it out in
Stewart’s stinging commentary was a result of his frustration
over several “debris” caution flags that have been called in
several races this season.
During his weekly radio show “Tony Stewart Live” on Sirius
Satellite Radio’s NASCAR channel, Stewart accused NASCAR of
using the debris caution flags to affect the outcome of races,
comparing NASCAR to the likes of professional wrestling.
“I guess NASCAR thinks 'Hey, wrestling worked, and it was for
the most part staged, so I guess it's going to work in racing,
too,’” Stewart said on Tuesday.
“I don't know that they've run a fair race all year. It's like
playing God. They can almost dictate the race instead of the
drivers doing it. It's happened too many times this year.”
After meeting with officials on Friday, Stewart backed off those
“They didn't say anything about professional wrestling this
morning,” said Stewart. “Some of the individuals felt like it
was a personal attack on them and like I said, that group of
people I spoke with this morning are a group I really have a lot
of respect for. It's a group of people that I trust and until
there is evidence to show me that what they are saying is not
true, I'm going to believe them.”
“My frustration was the caution flags the first half of the
race. But that's a frustration that's been building up for weeks
with me was these debris cautions.”
Stewart said on Tuesday that his frustration with NASCAR was his
main reason for skipping out on the mandatory media appearance,
and that he wasn’t obligated to attend under the terms of his
On Friday, however, Stewart said appearances were part of his
contract, as well as on the entry blank for the event.
“I was 100 percent wrong on that one,” said Stewart. “It's at
the bottom of the entry list that it is mandatory to go to the
media center. It's not your choice to go. And in my contract, it
does say that I'm obligated to go to the media center. So the
fact that I made the comment that it's your privilege to have
us...nope, you guys (the media) have 100 percent right.”
Stewart was apologetic that his public comments tarnished the
“I'm sure I did hurt the integrity of (the sport) - and
unfairly,” said Stewart. “Everybody in this building has made a
living off of this sport. I've made a living off of this sport.
It's a lot of work and obligation.
“I'm a lot of times my own worst enemy. You can't fix 'stupid' a
lot of times. I'm getting better about not saying stupid things
at the wrong times, but I haven't totally cured it yet.”