Don’t fine the messenger.
That’s the message the Drivers Council sends to NASCAR in paying Tony Stewart’s fine. The racing outfit docked Stewart $35,000 after he criticized NASCAR for allowing crews to not tighten lug nuts on wheels during pit stops.
The controversial driver noted:
It’s not even mandatory anymore. I mean, you don’t have to have but one on there if you don’t want. It’s however many you think you can get away with. So we’re putting the drivers in jeopardy to get track position. It’s not bit anybody yet, but I guarantee you that envelope is going to keep getting pushed until somebody gets hurt. You will not have heard a rant that’s going to be as bad as what’s going to come out of my mouth if a driver gets hurt because of a loose wheel that hurts one of them.
NASCAR didn’t specify the 44-year-old’s particular offense. It merely noted that “actions that could result in a $10,000-$50,000 fine include disparaging the sport and/or NASCAR’s leadership, or verbal abuse of a NASCAR Official, media members, fans, etc.”
The Drivers Council, a group formed last year by veteran drivers to discuss issues with NASCAR, says it won’t let the three-time Sprint Cup Series champion pay the unjust fine.
We as drivers believe Tony has the right to speak his opinion on topics that pertain to a sport that he has spent nearly two decades helping build as both a driver and an owner. While we do not condone drivers lashing out freely at NASCAR, we do feel Tony was in his rights to state his opinion. We as a Council support him and do not agree with the fine. Therefore, we fellow council members have agreed to contribute equally to paying his fine.
Stewart, sidelined with a back injury in 2016, returns to the driver’s seat at the Toyota Owners 400 this weekend.