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Road rage sparks fireworks among drivers

"He made his bed at that moment [on lap 39], and he had to sleep in it," Vickers said bluntly. "He wrecked me, and I dealt with it."

"I dumped him earlier for blocking and he got me back later on," said Stewart, sounding less less angry than resigned about the payback. He was also resolute about his initial actions: "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.

"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."

As for NASCAR, they seem content that this lies firmly under the auspicies of "Boys, have it" - their philosophy that the drivers will police themselves and keep each other in line with at times tough love when called for. As a result they didn't intervene at Infineon and gave no sign of any post-race penalties either: what happens on the track, stays on the track is their current mantra.

That even seems to apply when one driver's deliberate enforcement action against another - such as Stewart's against Vickers - then ends up involving innocent bystanders in the process. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was involved in the ensuing multi-car incident on lap 39, a hole in the radiator causing his engine to blow and causing him a costly DNF in 41st position. At least when Vickers and Logano sought their own 'retribution' they made sure they did it when no one else was around to get caught up in the mess.

NASCAR asking drivers to be law enforcement, judge and jury may be asking too much of the drivers, even of Stewart who is one of the most senior and respected of them as both a former champion and now as a team owner/driver. While he feels justified in his actions, acting as NASCAR's top cop on track proved very costly to him - the final encounter with Vickers causing him to retire in 39th place, a huge hit to his Cup chances as it means he drops to 12th place and out of the Chase qualifiers: he has only missed the Chase once since its introduction in 2004.

Wouldn't the sensible approach be to play it safe, hang back, and get a reasonable finish? Not according to Stewart: "It didn't make sense to [block] 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," he insisted. "If they block they get dumped. Plain and simple."

Will it mean drivers now give Stewart more room on the track and stop the blocking - or will it make the #14 a marked car instead? Whether his new "take no prisoners" attitude will help Stewart on track or hinder him remains to be seen. His peers in the sport, championship leader Carl Edwards and four-time Cup winner Jeff Gordon, had their own views.

"I don't think I've ever gone out and tried to get somebody back," said Edwards, but he was broadly supportive of NASCAR's line on such matters. "I think NASCAR has this 'have at it' mentality, the statement they made. I think in the end it will be better and safer for all of us. You know when you're out there, if NASCAR is going to let things be settled on the racetrack, I think people will respect each other a little bit more on the racetrack, and that's good."

Gordon was more mindful of the Championship implications for drivers like Stewart who took on the role of teaching others the hard rules of on-track life.




Related Pictures

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Juan Pablo Montoya and Brad Keselowski race door handle to door handle as Kyle Busch waits to see what develops on Sunday during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. [Picture Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Brian Vickers’ #83 Toyota looks nothing like the way it did at the start of Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 after Vickers’ run-in with Tony Stewart on Lap 37. Vickers paid back Stewart on Lap 87. Vickers finished 36th, Stewart 39th. [Photo credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images]
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Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet SS, qualified for third position Friday, August 29, 2014 for Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. Larson is 12th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Christa L. Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Tony Stewart at Dover International Speedway on May 30 2014. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images for NASCAR Media)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 McDonald’s Chevrolet SS, finished eighth and Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS, finished 35th Saturday, August 23, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
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Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and his team celebrate in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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