Stewart's actions off the track
are again drawing attention
SONOMA, Calif. - Tony Stewart again finds himself in the middle of controversy, this time involved in an alleged physical confrontation with rookie Brian Vickers.
Following Sunday's Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway, Stewart brought his No. 20 Chevrolet to a rest on pit road, exited his car and hurried quickly to Vicker's car.
Witnesses said the two engaged in what appeared to be an amicable conversation at first, with Stewart leaning over the driver's-side window of Vicker's car.
After a few moments, Stewart became quite animated, began reaching into the car and tried to pull Vickers out, witnesses said.
Members of Vicker's team quickly grabbed Stewart and hustled him away from the car. Stewart and Vickers both made a trip to the NASCAR hauler after the race.
Late Sunday, NASCAR President Mike Helton said the sanctioning body was still gathering information about the incident.
Vickers, who remained at the track well after Sunday's race while Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon celebrated the win, said he had no idea why Stewart was upset.
"He hit me earlier in the race and then he wrecked us in Turn 11 and that's why we spun there. Then after the race he came over to the car and then it just went from there.
"I was still strapped in the car with my helmet off. He came after me in the car. He reached for me and knocked the breath out of me. It was not a fist and he didn't hit me in the face."
Vickers said he laughed when Stewart yelled at him because he had no idea why Stewart was so angry.
"He said that I laughed about the situation and when I laughed I pissed him off and that's why he did it. I'm not going to lie to him and say that I didn't smile about it," Vickers said.
"Somebody is upset at me because they wrecked me and I thought it was funny."
Vicker's car owner, Rick Hendrick, was not made aware of the incident until after Gordon's Victory Lane celebration.
He said he would withhold comment until he learned more about what had happened. Stewart was unavailable for comment after the race, a team spokesman said.
Stewart has been involved in a couple of physical confrontations in recent race seasons, including striking a photographer following the 2002 race at Indianapolis, and slapping a reporter's cassette recorder from his hand in 2001.