LONG POND, Pa. — Tony Stewart’s rant about loose wheels in April cost him $35,000 and spurred a NASCAR rule change that has forced two Stewart-Haas Racing crew chiefs to each miss a race this season, but Stewart says he has no regrets about what he said.
“It’s the right thing,’’ Stewart said Thursday night after competing in a Mobil 1 Virtual Showdown iRacing League event at Pocono Raceway. “It’s still the right thing to do. Do I regret that? Absolutely not.
“(The penalty) just means they made mistakes. We had changers that made a mistake and didn’t get all of them on right. The fact that they got a penalty because of (the rule change implemented shortly after Stewart’s comments) I don’t regret that all.
“People are having five lug nuts on their cars now, and we don’t have to worry about the drivers being unsafe. We don’t have to worry about the fans being unsafe. We’ve solved that problem. It’s still every team’s responsibility to make sure they got them on.’’
Rodney Childers, crew chief for Kevin Harvick, will not be with the SHR team this weekend at Pocono because of a lug nut violation last weekend at Indianapolis. Dax Derringer, race engineer for Harvick, will serve as interim crew chief and get assistance from Greg Zipadelli, Stewart-Haas Racing’s vice president of competition.
Tony Gibson, crew chief for Kurt Busch’s Stewart-Haas Racing team, missed the June 5 race at Pocono for a lug nut violation after the Coca-Cola 600. Busch won at Pocono with engineer Johnny Klausmeier filling in for Gibson.
Stewart heads into this weekend with five finishes of 11th or better in his last six races. In June, he ran in the top 10 before an incident on a restart caused him to finish 34th. He left that weekend pleased with the team’s performance and his streak of strong finishes began the following week at Michigan.
As he returns to Pocono, Stewart is looking forward to this weekend.
“Definitely have a lot better confidence going into (Friday) at least,’’ he said. “We have to build off what we learned last time we were here and, hopefully, be a little bit better.’’