Stewart, Vickers have at it with block and dump at Sonoma
Chris Symeon, Motorsports Editor
Sonoma, CA (Sports Network) -
Tony Stewart offered some simple advice to his fellow competitors during Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race at Infineon Raceway. "If they block, they are going to get dumped."
Stewart and Brian Vickers wrote the next chapter in NASCAR's "boys, have at it" with their multiple altercations during the 110-lap race at the Northern California road course.
Vickers is now taking Stewart's advice seriously after Stewart hit him heading into turn 11 on lap 38. It triggered a seven-car pileup, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. among those involved. Earnhardt Jr. suffered a broken radiator and shortly after retired from the race with engine failure.
Stewart claimed that Vickers was blocking him and said he won't tolerate that kind of racing from him or anyone else.
"I've been complaining about the way guys have been racing all year," Stewart said. "I like Brian. I'm not holding it against him at all. I don't care if it was Ryan Newman [Stewart's teammate]. 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 disagreed with Stewart.
"We haven't had any problems in a long time," Brian Vickers said.
"I wasn't blocking him," Vickers said. "That may have been his perception where he was sitting. [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. 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."
Vickers did retaliated on lap 87.
After Stewart passed Vickers for position, Vickers bumped Stewart from behind and sent him into the wall. Stewart's car came to rest on a pile of tires in front of the wall.
Stewart wound up finishing 39th, while Vickers placed three positions ahead of him in 36th.
This wasn't just payback, it was road rage. Careful boys, the State of California has stiff penalties for reckless driving.
NASCAR has not taken any action against either driver. In other words, officials let Stewart and Vickers have at it.
"I don't race guys that way; I never have," Stewart said. "If guys want to block, then they are going to wrecked every time. Until NASCAR makes a rule against it, I am going to dump them every time for it."
Even though Stewart and Vickers disagreed with each on their lap 38 incident, don't expect them to have the same feelings that Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch have for each other right now.
"We haven't had any problems in a long time," Vickers said. "Actually, I think the last real problem we had was turn 11 [at Sonoma] in 2004, funny enough. That was the last time we actually got together."
Turn 11 at the 1.99-mile Sonoma course has had its share of incidents over the years.
"The problem is turn 11," said Jeff Gordon, who finished second. "There's two places you can pass on this track, going into [turns] seven and 11. You couldn't really pass going into seven [Sunday]. It was so slick, you had to be so careful. So everybody gets to turn 11. Because you're racing one another, it seems like guys really block the inside lane and force guys to go around the outside lane. So it builds frustration. You get in a position where this is your only shot for that entire lap to try to make a pass.
"Either somebody gets aggressive and drives in there too hard, makes contact, or they just get frustrated and start using the bumper. It's hard to say. But it was pretty crazy from where I was sitting. I know that."
It was a crazy affair at Sonoma, but it was fun to watch.