Tony Stewart says he’s still unsure what he said to deserve a $35,000 fine last week and questions why it should be assessed after NASCAR changed the rule on lug nuts shortly after Stewart’s comments.
Stewart also praised the Sprint Cup Drivers Council for backing him and offering to pay his fine (that money has been donated to charity).
NASCAR fined Stewart after he questioned the sanctioning body’s stance on safety by not requiring teams to tighten all five lug nuts on each wheel. NASCAR changed the rule this week and announced additional penalties for such infractions.
“You hate to have to pay $35,000 to get somebody’s attention to do something,’’ Stewart said Friday at Talladega Superspeedway. “Apparently that’s what it took. I’ve got questions, too, that I’d like to have answers to. I’m still wondering why I’m paying a $35,000 fine for something that got changed three days later.’’
NASCAR Chairman Brian France explained earlier this week — the second time he called into SiriusXM NASCAR Radio in two days — why Stewart was fined.
“When you imply that NASCAR doesn’t care about safety, you can expect a reaction from us,’’ France said.
Said Stewart on Friday: “Apparently, I shook too hard. It’s just figuring out how to communicate with them and that is getting better. We’ve got a Driver Council meeting here in Talladega (Friday night). I’m excited about that. I’m excited to have been a part of it last year, and I’m able to be a part of it this year before I move on to see the foundation that is being laid. It’s really a positive thing.
“There are a lot of drivers that are doing more work than I am with it right now. I’m kind of sitting back and watching what is going on because I’m only going to be on here for another six, eight months or whatever it is until the season is over. I’m really proud, and I feel really strong that there is a lot of good leadership in the council right now and that the foundation that is being laid there will carry on for years to come down the road.”
Stewart also said it was important how the Council spoke as one when the group supported him.
“Something I’m really proud of with this Drivers Council is how the drivers are united about everything that we’re doing,’’ Stewart said. “This was the first time something had happened where somebody on the Council got a penalty for speaking an opinion and for them to show that kind of support and show that we’re all one unit, that’s something that you don’t normally see and we haven’t seen in this sport.
“Guys talk amongst each other, but somebody gets in trouble for something, the rest of the drivers will privately support it but can’t publicly support it. This was the first time we’ve seen public support and I think it’s gone a long way.’’
“I appreciated their support, and I think they made a huge statement about what the Driver Council is about and the fact that they didn’t believe what I did deserved the fine.’’