NASCAR & Auto Racing

Sources: Stewart strikes Kurt Busch as NASCAR officials look on

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - A meeting in the NASCAR hauler Friday night after an on-track incident between driver Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch ended abruptly when Stewart allegedly struck Busch in the presence of NASCAR officials and left the hauler, four sources with knowledge of the incident told The Charlotte Observer and ThatsRacin.com.

The physical altercation was the reason NASCAR vice president Jim Hunter told a gathering of media outside the hauler Saturday evening that another conversation with the two drivers would be held Saturday morning, the sources said.

Stewart was seen exiting the rear side entrance of the NASCAR hauler not long after both drivers had arrived. Busch remained in the hauler and eventually left, once a golf cart was summoned for him, sources said.

When asked Saturday whether NASCAR officials Robin Pemberton, John Darby and Hunter witnessed Stewart strike Busch in their presence in the NASCAR hauler Friday evening, NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston replied, "What transpires in the NASCAR hauler, remains in the hauler."

Asked if that included acts of violence, Poston replied, "It includes anything."

A check of local police records showed no charges had been filed against Stewart.

On the track Friday night, Stewart hit Busch from behind during a practice session for the Budweiser Shootout causing Busch's car to slam into the wall. Stewart's car rolled down the track and slid into his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin.

As Stewart turned onto pit road, Busch ran him down and twice slammed his car into the side of Stewart's No. 20 Toyota. When Stewart attempted to turn into the entrance of the garage area, Busch then cut him off.

After Stewart's teammates arrived, Busch then drove his car into the garage.

Both drivers were then called to the NASCAR hauler, where the physical confrontation took place.

In an interview Saturday morning with Speed TV, Busch said his focus now was on preparing his Daytona 500 car.

"Tony and I are competitors, we always have been and we're going to be just fine," Busch said. "We're going to move forward. We know we need to help each other out in the future so that doesn?t happen again."

Stewart was interviewed by Speed TV early Saturday morning prior to the start of qualifying practice and appeared contrite.

"Coming down on pit lane - I'm not blaming him. I've done worse," Stewart said of the on-track incident.

"The emotion of getting ready for the Shootout. He's a good driver and the passion is what makes us as good as we all are. What happened last night is over."

His team later released a statement, basically repeating the same thing, but added, "We've met in the NASCAR hauler twice now, and we're both past it and we're hoping that the media will respect that fact too and let us move on."

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