NASCAR

Stewart ashamed of incident in Australia

Stewart speaks up about his altercation in Australia
Stewart speaks up about his altercation in Australia
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Rea White

Rea White has been covering NASCAR full time since 1998. She has won awards from press agencies in Alabama and North Carolina and formerly served as president of the National Motorsports Press Association. Follow her on Twitter.

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Two-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart admits he's “ashamed” of his involvement in an incident last week in Australia that prompted a police investigation.

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"I’m definitely not proud of what happened, and if I had it to do all over again, I would have dealt with it much different," Stewart told the media at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday.

The NASCAR superstar was questioned by Australian police after the incident at Sydney Speedway on Saturday night. The Australian website and The Sydney Morning Herald reported there was a fight between Stewart and track co-owner Brett Morris.

The driver filed a police statement, but the investigation did not affect his freedom to leave the country.

"There was an altercation at the racetrack," Stewart said. "It was a dispute between myself and one of the owners of the facility, but as it also was reported, we went down to the police station, we gave them a statement, they told us after the statement that we were free to go back to the hotel room and free to get on the plane the next day.

"Definitely wasn’t the way I wanted to end my trip. We had a fun trip over there. Obviously, there was a lot of flooding and raining while we were there, but at the same time we still we had a good race trip over there and didn’t end that last night the way we wanted to, by any means.

"It’s not uncommon to see drivers and track owners have disputes over what’s going on, but this one went a little further than a normal dispute."

Stewart said he was not at liberty to comment on the nature of his conversation with the police. The owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, Stewart said he was embarrassed to have been involved.

"I’m ashamed about it," he said. "But at the same time, it’s been nice to get back with the team and it’s nice to come down here and worry about driving the race car again. And it’s not that it’s making me forget about it, but it’s at least getting my mind off of it enough to relax . . . We just had one bad night on a 30-day trip."

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Stewart's dispute with Morris centered on racetrack conditions, with the 39-year-old American concerned the speedway might be unsafe.

"We had been over there for almost five weeks, and we had been dealing with the same problem with the racetrack," Stewart said, "so it wasn’t something that was just one incident that led up to it, it was a combination of the whole trip. There was just a dispute on how they were doing a couple of different aspects of preparing the racetrack and what it was putting the drivers and the situations that we were put in. I’ve always been one to speak up for what I think is right, especially when it comes to the safety side of it. I didn’t think the conditions were safe to run on, and they felt differently.”

While stressing he's not trying to avoid or make light of the incident, Stewart said getting back to the NASCAR season will help him move on.

“I’m home, and I’m back doing things that are getting my mind off of it, obviously," he said. "This isn’t something that I’ve blown off," Stewart said. "I’ve lost a lot of sleep over it because I’m very embarrassed that I made it through a whole trip and the night before I come home I get in an altercation with somebody and that really hasn’t happened for a while, so I’m not at all the least bit proud over it."

Stewart said he wasn't worried about whether the matter was settled but would deal with whatever comes next.

"If there is and we have to go back we’ll deal with it.," he said, "it’s nothing that we’re concerned with at this point. Like I said, when they were done with us they said we were able to go back to the hotel and were able get on our flight and come back. ... We’ll deal with it if anything else comes about.”

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