Originally created 07/15/04

Kahne's team hit with fine for brawl



Tony Stewart's aggressive driving continues to bolster NASCAR's penalty coffers.

Stock car's governing body fined driver Kasey Kahne's crew chief $10,000 on Tuesday for a pit-road brawl with Stewart's team during the Tropicana 400 on Sunday.

Crew chief Tommy Baldwin violated two NASCAR rules when he and the rest of Kahne's crew entered Stewart's pit stall and fought with his pit crew after the two drivers were involved in an accident on the track.

Baldwin was fined $5,000 for inciting an altercation in another team's pit area and $5,000 more for not controlling other team members. He was also placed on probation through the end of the season.

Stewart ran into the back of Kahne's car during the race, sending the rookie driver's car into the outside wall. Stewart said Kahne pulled in front of him and slowed down, causing the accident. Stewart went on to win the race.

Ray Evernham, who owns Kahne's team, defended Baldwin and the team's actions.

"NASCAR has made its decision: now it's time to move on," said Evernham, who lashed out at Stewart following the incident, saying the controversial driver should be suspended.

"I understand why Tommy and the team reacted the way they did in the heat of competition."

The incident was the second in three weeks involving Stewart. NASCAR fined the hot-tempered driver following a race in Sonoma, Calif. on June 27.

Stewart argued with and struck driver Brian Vicker after the Dodge/Save Mart 350, drawing a $50,000 fine from NASCAR.

But last weekend's pit-road incident even shocked Stewart.

"The last time I checked, we were doing auto racing, not boxing," Stewart said.

CREW CHIEF FIRED: Popular crew chief Michael McSwain was fired from Bobby Labonte's team Wednesday.

McSwain had worked with Labonte's team since the start of the 2003 season. Labonte finished eighth in the Nextel Cup points standings last year and is currently sixth in this season's points race.

Jimmy Makar, senior vice president for racing at Joe Gibbs Racing, the owner of Labonte's team, will serve as interim crew chief while Gibbs officials search for a replacement.

Makar previously worked as Labonte's crew chief during the 2002 season.

"Michael did a great job," Labonte said. "He works hard, and I wish him success down the road."