Three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart and Brad Keselowski are facing fines and probation for Saturday’s postrace incident at Charlotte Motor Speedway in north Carolina. NASCAR fined Keselowski $50,000 and fined Stewart $25,000. Both are on probation for four weeks, cited for actions detrimental to stock car racing and their behavior.
“These penalties are about maintaining a safe environment following the race,” Robin Pemberton, NASCAR senior vice president, competition and racing development, said in a statement. “We knew that the new Chase format was likely going to raise the intensity level and we want our drivers to continue to be themselves. However, the safety of our drivers, crew members, officials, and workers is paramount and we will react when that safety could be compromised.”
Kaselowski tried to make Denny Hamlin spin out after Hamlin brake-checked Keselowski in the cool-down lap and made contact with Matt Kenseth on the pit road after Kenseth cut him off with six laps to go in the race, the Associated Press reported. Keselowski accidentally hit Stewart in the set-to with Kenseth, propmpting Stewart to back up and slam into Keselowski’s vehicle, damaging the front.
Sporting News reported Hamlin’s crew had to restrain him from going after Keselowski in the garage area. Kenseth, however, got his licks in, putting Keselowski into a headlock before onlookers intervened. Keselowski said he retaliated because Kenseth hit him while he was under caution and then was hit by Hamlin afterward.
Hamlin and Kenseth were not fined.
“Those guys can dish it out, but they can’t take it. I gave it back to them and now they want to fight, so I don’t know what’s up with that,” Sporting News quoted Keselowski as saying.
The incident quashes Stewart’s chances of qualifying for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. He didn’t compete in three races in August after he struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr. at a track in Upstate New York. He was not charged with criminal wrongdoing, however.