Stewart, Ku. Busch placed on probation for six races
By Official Release
February 12, 2008
02:57 PM EST
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR has placed drivers Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch on probation for the first six races of the 2008 Sprint Cup Series season, a result of their on-track altercations Friday during practice for the Budweiser Shootout.
Stewart, driver of the No. 20 Toyota and Busch, driver of the No. 2 Dodge, violated Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing; altercation with another competitor) of the NASCAR rule book.
The probations start Wednesday, as practice begins for the season-opening Daytona 500.
NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said the drivers were disciplined solely for the on-track portion of their clash, when the drivers deliberately used their cars as battering rams.
"We will continue to keep a check on this sport and won't let it get out of hand," Poston said. "If there is a repeat between these two, then we will take it much more seriously."
Busch and Stewart, former series champions with a history of clashing on the track, crashed during the final practice session Friday night (read more).
Busch attempted to block Stewart and got hit from behind, damaging both cars. Busch retaliated by slamming into the side of Stewart's car three times as they drove back toward the garage. Stewart then used his car to block Busch from exiting the track (watch video).
Both drivers immediately were told to meet with NASCAR officials, and Stewart and Busch continued to bicker during the heated, closed-door meeting, during which Stewart allegedly threw a punch at Busch (read more).
NASCAR officials came into this season saying drivers would be given more latitude to show emotion this year, and the relatively light nature of Tuesday's punishments would seem to support that.
In the past, officials haven't necessarily punished a driver more harshly if he misbehaves while on probation. Poston said that's going to change. "In the past we've used 'probation for the rest of the year,' but it's never been something that's been exercised. It never seemed to really mean anything," he said.
"Now we are going to take action. If you are on probation for an altercation with another driver, and you have a second incident during that probation period, we are going to take action."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.