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Stewart charges after Vickers

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Published June 28, 2004

SONOMA, Calif. - Tony Stewart took a swing at rookie Brian Vickers as Vickers sat in his car after Sunday's Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway and then tried to pull him through the window.

Before it turned into a full-scale brawl, Vickers' team pulled the two apart. Then Stewart made what is turning out to be a weekly visit to NASCAR's big red truck to explain his conduct.

It was a quick moment of drama following the long road race during which the two drivers made contact on several occasions.

Vickers was summoned to the NASCAR truck, too.

"He said that I laughed about the situation and when I laughed it (ticked) him off," Vickers said. "I said "Yeah, I did laugh. I thought it was funny that you were mad at me because you wrecked me.' Somebody is upset at me because they wrecked me and I thought it was funny. ... This is not a situation that I'm going to make a big deal out of. He was always behind me. I never passed him, I was never behind him."

Vickers claimed Stewart's No. 20 Chevrolet hit his No. 25 Chevy early, then wrecked him at Turn 11 and spun him. Stewart was unavailable for comment. Stewart finished 15th, Vickers 22nd.

Vickers was still in his car, wearing his helmet, when Stewart charged up after the race.

It was Stewart's first physical confrontation in a couple of years. He had anger management counseling for shoving photographers and, allegedly, a fan at Bristol.

UNLUCKY DOG: NASCAR dropped the "lucky dog" rule for one race. Instead of the double-file restarts used on ovals, in which the driver of the first car a lap down starts at the end of the lead lap, NASCAR suspended the rule for Infineon's twisting 1.99-mile course.

MORE TALKING: Track observers at Daytona International Speedway will have more direct communication with safety workers beginning with Saturday's Pepsi 400. Ernie Thurston, the track's director of emergency services, said observers watching from platforms around the 21/2-mile oval will be issued radios on which they can switch frequencies to "enhance their ability to talk directly to emergency people on track, but only in the event of an emergency."

WORTH NOTING: Robby Gordon, who won both Nextel Cup road races last year, slid off course and hit a tire wall after losing a tire earlier in the race, then had two more flat tires and wound up 34th. ... Klaus Graf, the first German driver in a NASCAR race in the modern era, finished 17th and on the lead lap.

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