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Tony Stewart in Oz altercation
21 January 2011
NASCAR Sprint Cup team owner and driver Tony Stewart has confirmed that he was involved in a physical confrontation with a local track owner in Sydney, Australia on the final night of a month-long vacation down under.
However, Stewart was quick to say that he was "not concerned about it" and did not believe there would be any further repercussions from the incident, even though the local police in Australia are yet to close their investigation, saying the whole matter was more of an embarrassment than anything.
"It's nothing that we're concerned with at this point," he said, adding that the New South Wales police had "said we were able to go back to the hotel and were able get on our flight and come back." He said that "I'm not concerned about [having to go back] - if there is and we have to go back, we'll deal with it.
"I'm not at all the least bit proud of it - I'm ashamed about it," he said, adding: "I've lost a lot of sleep over it because I'm very embarrassed that I made it through a whole trip and the night before I come home I get in an altercation with somebody, and that really hasn't happened for a while."
The confrontation was between Stewart and Bret Morris, the co-owner of Sydney Speedway where Stewart was competing as part of his holiday activities. The event had been affected by heavy rain and Stewart apparently took Morris to task over the track surface's safety conditions. Some reports suggest Stewart hit Morris with his helmet, who then retaliated.
Stewart himself is the circuit owner of Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio as well as a partner in two other short tracks in the US, and commented: "It's not uncommon to see drivers and track owners have disputes over what's going on, but this one went a little bit further than a normal dispute," he admitted.
"It definitely wasn't the way I wanted to end my trip," he said in a press conference dominated by questions over the Australian incident. He praised the NSW police as "cordial and very professional" and said he would "love to" return to Australia for future vacations: "I still want to go back and still want to go back and race. I'm glad this will be over with soon, hopefully."
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