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Stewart in Australian altercation

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Fiery driver gets a black eye for his trouble

Chris Barrett

January 17, 2011


IT WAS a scene that could have been taken straight out of Talladega Nights: an American NASCAR star hits a Sydney track owner with his helmet, and gets a black eye in return. It would be comical, if not for the fact it was serious enough to involve police.


The altercation between Tony Stewart, the twice NASCAR Sprint Series champion who reportedly earned $19 million last year, and Brett Morris, the co-owner of the Sydney Speedway, played out on Saturday night at the Sprintcar Grand National event at Granville.


Stewart was one of 10 Americans competing, but the fact he did not race beyond his heat - he was conspicuously absent in the semi-feature and feature race - might have been a giveaway that something was up. The reason for his absence, it turned out, was a heated exchange with Morris, that turned even uglier when Stewart supposedly whacked the track owner with his helmet.


Advertisement: Story continues below Morris, not slight in build, allegedly struck back according to witnesses, leaving Stewart nursing a black eye. If that was not demoralising enough, the American found himself questioned by police at Rosehill station, but was released without charge.


''Police from Rosehill central command were alerted to an altercation involving two men at a race car track about 7:30 last night,'' NSW police spokeswoman Joanne Elliott said yesterday. ''A 39-year-old man was arrested at the scene after a 46-year-old man was allegedly hit in the face by a racing helmet.


''The 39-year-old man was released without charge, pending further investigation.''


There was speculation late yesterday that Stewart had been upset about track conditions, but neither he nor Morris could be contacted for comment. Stewart was scheduled to leave Australia yesterday and the police spokeswoman said the incident would not stop his departure.


The enigmatic racing icon has not been immune to a scuffle in the past. In 2008 he punched fellow driver Kurt Busch at Daytona International Speedway and he pulled off the headset of an official and shoved another at a racetrack in Indiana.


There is no shortage of YouTube footage of Stewart clashing with other drivers, officials, and castigating speedway managers and sponsors.


In between Stewart, now a team owner and driver, earns a fortune, pocketing $19m last year, including $6.8m in prizemoney according to Forbes.


Stewart's publicist Mike Arning was attempting to play down the fight yesterday. ''We're attempting to gather whatever information we can get our hands on in an effort to separate fact from fiction,'' he told the racing website SB Nation.


''However, we can say that Tony Stewart is not being held anywhere and is resting in his hotel in Australia. While we have spoken with him, he's still half a world away, so figuring out what did or didn't happen is going to take some time.''

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Looks like not everyone is impressed by the " I'm a big star if I act like jackass, just point and say thats Tony" routine. Lets wait till all the details come out before we laugh our a$$es off. If this had happened when he was younger he might not be such a bully now. This should bring the tony lovers out of the woodwork.

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Back in my Military years, assignments in the Far East resulted in several joint temporary duties (TDY's) alongside the Aussie Air Force.

I have to say they were by far, the best bunch of foreign military guys I ever had the pleasure of meeting.

But, they were not star struck by any of us, or anyone else for that matter.

Those Aussies are great people, but you cross them, and they will put you in your place.

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Just when I thought Stewarts's hot headed days were over they seem to still come back. My sister-in-law works for Stewart at his race shop and says Tony is a very nice man. He likes to joke with people and have fun. He treats his employee's good. However to me, that hot head is still around. Maybe not out of it's cage every day, but still there.

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