News & Media

Stewart, Vickers in agreement on accidents

June 26, 2011, Joe Menzer,

SONOMA, Calif. -- Both agree incidents were intentional, but no hard feelings linger after payback

To both Tony Stewart and Brian Vickers, it was pretty simple.

But that hardly means their points of view were the same after they took turns deliberately wrecking each other during Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway. It didn't help either one of them, as Vickers ended up finishing 36th -- three spots ahead of Stewart, who finished 39th in the 43-car field.

Beatin' and bangin'

There was no shortage of action, or damage, at Infineon Raceway. Turn 11 was the popular place to take out frustrations as several took the brunt of others' unhappiness.

"You know, he wrecked me -- and I wrecked him back," Vickers said in a matter-of-fact manner after it was all over.

The melee started on Lap 39 of the 110-lap event on the tricky 1.99-mile road course. As they entered Turn 11 -- a hairpin turn at the south end of the track -- Stewart put his No. 14 Chevrolet into the back of Vickers' No. 83 Toyota and turned him. Stewart did not deny later that he did it entirely on purpose.

"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 [Stewart-Haas Racing 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 denied that he was blocking Stewart at the time.

"I wasn't blocking him. That may have been his perception from where he was sitting, but the 18 [of Kyle Busch] went off the race track in front of me," Vickers said. "He was going off in the dirt and then coming back in front of me on the race track, and I was trying to avoid him. The cars in front of me were slow. I was 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 [Stewart] sees the replay and he realizes why I went low -- if he looks at it out of my front windshield -- he'll realize it had nothing to do with him. It had to do with the 18 almost wrecking me, and a couple of other guys running slow up top."

Once Stewart wrecked him, Vickers said there was no doubt in his mind about what he had to do the next time he had the opportunity.

"It's unfortunate," Vickers said. "He made his bed at that moment, and he had to sleep in it."

Vickers applied the sleeper hold on Lap 87. Entering the same Turn 11, he plowed into the back of Stewart's car so hard that he spun himself and forced the No. 14 machine to spin backward up onto the tire barrier, where it sat for several minutes before rescue workers could figure out how to get it down and into the garage for repairs.

"He wrecked me, and I dealt with it," Vickers said.

Stewart sounded like a guy who figured he had it coming. But he was hardly apologetic about taking Vickers out earlier.

"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 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 and I don't blame him. There is nothing wrong with it."

Vickers said he has a great relationship with Stewart, and that he does not expect hard feelings to linger over this incident.

"We were joking and laughing last week and had a great race," Vickers said. "We haven't had any problems in a long time. Actually, I think the last problem we had was in Turn 11 here in 2004. That was the last time we got together."

The smiling Vickers also insisted he wasn't angry about what happened.

"I'm not angry. I'd rather have been racing for the win and worrying about something like that. ... Granted, I wish it hadn't happened. I hate it for the Red Bull guys. Those guys worked really hard on the car," Vickers said.

"We were trying some new stuff. We made some changes at the beginning of the race with the air pressure. We were horrible at the start of the race ... absolutely horrible. Once we fixed that, we were pretty quick."

Stewart was pretty quick for a stretch during the race as well. He ran second for a fairly long stretch and even led three laps before getting taken out by Vickers.

He may have known it was coming, but in his mind what he did earlier was just as justified as what Vickers did to him later.

"I don't know if it's lack of respect or guys just pushing the envelope and not working with each other," said Stewart, who dropped one spot to 12th in the points standings. "There wasn't any reason at the point of the race where he started blocking in the first place. It didn't make sense to do it and I'm not going to tolerate it. I don't race guys that way and I'm not going to let anybody race me that way. So if they block, they get dumped. Plain and simple." Neither driver was disciplined afterward by NASCAR, whose officials declared it was "just good, hard racing here at Infineon Raceway." But then, neither driver expected to be disciplined. They took care of business themselves as they saw fit.

"[Officials from NASCAR] know Tony and I have been around long enough to work this out ourselves," said Vickers, who dropped two spots in the points to 26th. "We're both grown adults. It's not like we're rookies, just learning the ropes. We'll figure it out. I'm sure we'll talk this week. We don't need NASCAR to tell us anything."

Vickers said his decision to retaliate was just how it's done in this sport.

"It's just racing. It's just human nature. It's how people do things, how they address things," he said. "If they don't, they just keep happening. He made his move and I addressed it. That's the end of the discussion.

"It's a competitive environment and we all want to win. I don't know why he wrecked me. That was his decision to make. But I'm good. ... The way I see it, we're all good. We're all square."