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Stewart, Vickers tangle at Infineon
Tony Stewart sent a message on Sunday: Block me, face the consequences.
The only problem with Stewart’s action during the NASCAR Sprint Cup race is that not only did he end up dumping Brian Vickers, who was holding up Stewart’s No. 14 Chevrolet, on Lap 38 of 110, but he also took Dale Earnhardt Jr. out of contention and slowed the progress of Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick, all innocent bystanders.
Vickers waited for the perfect opportunity at Infineon Raceway to retaliate. Although Vickers claims he wasn’t “waiting” it was simply “fate,” he allowed Stewart to drive on by him on Lap 87. As they neared the original scene of the crime, Vickers punted the No. 14 into the tire barrier.
“I dumped him earlier for blocking and he got me back later on,” Stewart said. “If they block, they are going to get dumped. It is real simple. I mean I don’t blame him, I don’t blame him for dumping us back. But, I don’t race guys that way, I never have.
“If guys want to block then they are going to get wrecked every time. Until NASCAR makes a rule against it, I am going to dump them every time for it. He did what he had to do, I don’t blame him, there is nothing wrong with it.”
This isn’t the first time these drivers have had a dustup at Infineon. The two had an incident in 2004 where Stewart wrecked Vickers in Turn 11, blamed him for it and then came after him following the race.
Not surprisingly, Vickers did not mince words describing his actions on Sunday: “You know, he wrecked me and I wrecked him. I could keep talking about it if you want. I could lie to you if you’d like.”
On the other hand, Vickers insists he was not blocking Stewart earlier in the race.
“That may have been his perception where he was sitting,” Vickers said. “(Kyle Busch) went off the racetrack in front of me, he was flying through the dirt. He was coming back on the racetrack and I was trying to avoid him. You know the cars in front of me were slow and I was in the inside of the guy in front of me.
“It’s pretty early in the race to worry about blocking someone or wrecking someone. I think when he sees the replay and he realizes why I went low, he’ll realize that if he looks out my front windshield, he’ll realize it had nothing to do with him, it had to do with the 18 almost wrecking and a couple other guys slow up top. You know, it’s unfortunate. He made his bed at that moment and he had to sleep in it.”
Despite a feeble attempt to return to the track on Lap 102, the No. 14 barely made it around the circuit before returning to the garage and finished 39th. Stewart not only took a hit on the track, he also took a hit in the points standings as he dropped to 12th, 113 points behind first-place Carl Edwards.
Stewart, who is generally respected but does not hold back with payback when it’s due, acknowledged he “probably had it coming.”
“If anybody wants to block all year, that's what I'm going to keep doing so they can handle it however they want,” Stewart said. “It was payback, but I dumped him first and I dumped him because he was blocking. I've been complaining about the way guys have been racing all year.
“I like Brian, I'm not holding it against him at all. I don't care if it was (teammate) Ryan Newman, I would have dumped him too. If they want to block, that's what is going to happen to them every time for the rest of my career."
Vickers, who finished the race 36th and dropped to 26th in the points standings, says he‘s “not angry” with Stewart and expects to talk with him this week.
Will Vickers watch his back in the future?
“No,” he said. “Maybe I should, but the way I see it we’re all square.”
Vickers was just hopeful that “no fines would come from it.” After the race, NASCAR spokesperson Kristi King said, “In our opinion, it was just good, hard racing.”
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