NASCAR champion Tony Stewart confronted a fan in the grandstands at the Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa Oklahoma Friday night. Multiple videos posted on social media show Stewart, 44, in an altercation in the stands after what fans said was heckling from the fan. Several indicated that the person in the stands had given the middle finger to Stewart.
No blows were exchanged but there was some pushing and shoving. Stewart could be seen smiling as the confrontation began and the nearby crowd cheered with chants of his name during the exchange.
The Chili Bowl Nationals in a prestigious indoor midget car event that Stewart has won twice. Although he isn’t competing in the event, Stewart is helping with drivers he fields as well as track preparations. The popular driver has won three NASCAR titles and announced in the fall of 2015 that 2016 will be his final full time year in NASCAR’s top touring series.
Prior to his NASCAR debut Stewart had already made a name for himself in the open wheel ranks winning titles in the Indycar series, midget racing, sprint car racing and USAC Sliver Crown car. Stewart remains the only driver to win titles in both NASCAR and the IndyCar series.
During his NASCAR career, Stewart never gave up on his open wheel roots. He remained active on dirt tracks around the country winning and competing on a regular basis. He has also been involved in several incidents at tracks across the country much to the delight of his large fan base.
In 2008, USAC fined Stewart $10,000 and placed him on probation after an incident at Lucas Oil Raceway. Stewart knocked a radio headset off one official and shoved another during a confrontation. Stewart later apologized for his actions
Stewart spent time in police custody in Australia in 2011 after a confrontation with a track owner. The dispute was over the condition of the racing surface and left Stewart with a cut on his chin and an apologetic and humble attitude when it was over. He was not charged in that incident.
Two years later, Stewart broke his leg during a sprint car race in Iowa and was forced to miss the remainder of the 2013 NASCAR season. Stewart returned to NASCAR and continued to race on dirt in 2014, but on August 9 on that same year, Stewart was involved in an accident during another sprint car race in New York which resulted in the death of another driver. No charges were ever filed against Stewart and he returned to NASCAR after missing several races. Since that incident, Stewart has not raced outside of NASCAR.
During a press conference in Tulsa Monday Stewart said he will be racing on dirt after he retires, including a return to compete in the Chili Bowl Nationals. . Stewart entered the Cup series in 1999 and has 48 wins entering his final season. He starts his final full season in NASCAR on February 21 with the first NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season the Daytona 500.