Stewart's probation extended


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Tony Stewart avoided a costly suspension
Wednesday when NASCAR fined him $10,000 and extended his probation
through the end of the season for separate blowups with a Winston
Cup official and a reporter following the Pepsi 400.

Stewart, who was already on probation through August for
spinning out Jeff Gordon on pit road earlier this season, could
have received a stiffer punishment ranging from suspension from
races to a loss of championship points.

Instead, NASCAR said Wednesday that Stewart would be subjected
to those punishments should he violate his probation again this

Stewart, who attended his grandfather's funeral in Lafayette,
Ind., on Tuesday, was not immediately available for comment.

In its ruling, NASCAR called Stewart's post-race behavior
"detrimental to stock car racing" and ordered him to formally
apologize to reporter Mike Mulhern of the Winston-Salem (N.C.)
Journal and racing fans.

Stewart was not penalized further for ignoring the black-flag he
was given during Saturday night's race.

Stewart was running in second place with four laps to go when
his car went below the yellow line on the race track, which drivers
had been warned not to do in their pre-race meeting.

NASCAR immediately black-flagged Stewart, but he ignored the
call into the pits because he believed he had been forced below the
line by a pack of cars running four-wide.

After the race, he headed toward the NASCAR hauler to argue his
case. When Mulhern approached him to ask a question, Stewart
slapped his tape recorder out of his hands and kicked it under a
nearby hauler.

Once at NASCAR's trailer he angrily confronted Winston Cup
director Gary Nelson and had to be restrained by car owner Joe
Gibbs and crew chief Greg Zipadelli.

Stewart left the track without commenting as NASCAR reviewed
tape of the on-track incident. After a 90-minute review, the
sanctioning body moved Stewart's official finishing order from
sixth to 26th, a decision that cost him 65 points in the standings.

Stewart, who went into the race trailing series leader Gordon by
89 points, is now 201 points behind him.