Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stewart, R. Gordon Come to Blows

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stewart, R. Gordon Come to Blows

Article excerpt

DAYTONA BEACH -- When Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon bumped on the backstretch and skidded through the infield grass, that proved to be the first blow in a heated exchange between the two former IndyCar drivers.

The confrontation continued in the Daytona International Speedway garage area with both drivers pushing and throwing punches before being separated by a NASCAR official and several crewmen.

Gordon got the worst of it, suffering a cut in his mouth. His car also got the worst of it, sustaining damage to both front and rear fenders.

"I'm sure with it being the last minutes of practice that tempers are flaring and everybody is getting frustrated," Gordon said. "It's just unfortunate what happened.

"I respect Tony as a driver, and basically the reason why I went over [to Stewart's garage stall] was to say, 'Hey, can you give me a little room [on the race track]?' It's only practice. We didn't need to tear up my car; we didn't need to tear up his car. He told me, 'Get out of here until you learn how to race Winston Cup,' and then he pushed me. That's where it went all bad."

Gordon spent a half-season on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series in 1997 before returning to the CART IndyCar circuit. He then decided last year to make stock cars his permanent racing home.

Stewart was last year's Winston Cup Rookie of the Year after leaving the Indy Racing League in 1998.

Gordon passed Stewart in the second turn during the final practice session leading up to this afternoon's Gatorade Twin 125-mile qualifying races. As Gordon fell back in line, Stewart bumped him, sending both cars sliding off course and into the grass.

"Everybody knows how the draft works," Stewart said. "You need to get a half a car on a guy, then suck up to him and it pulls you. He went by and I went to do the same thing, and about the time I got past his bumper -- he didn't make a hard left or anything -- he moved down to the bottom. There wasn't anyone in front of us, so it wasn't like we were trying to draft on anybody else. I finally got to the apron where I couldn't go down any more. He clipped the nose, and off we went. …

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