Tony Stewart downplays incident

Updated: September 18, 2012, 4:50 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

CONCORD, N.C. -- A video of Tony Stewart grabbing the rear end of Kevin Harvick's wife has gone viral, but the three-time Sprint Cup champion has downplayed the incident as a routine between friends that he believes brings good luck.

Stewart's two-handed goose of DeLana Harvick happened just before the start of Sunday's Chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway. Video of the incident has appeared on CNN Headline News and in other major news organizations.

Stewart Kevin comes up and gets me, I get DeLana, DeLana gets both of us. ... It always makes her jump, and so it's something we've always joked about and talked about it being good luck. You do what works. ... I'm just glad picking my nose wasn't that thing that's been good luck.

-- Tony Stewart on
relationship with the Harvicks

Stewart seemed surprised by the amount of attention the video has gotten, claiming that he has been grabbing DeLana Harvick's rear end before races for years to bring him good luck.

"This is old news," Stewart said Tuesday during a news conference promoting the Wounded Warrior Project for the October race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. "I guess it's just the first time the camera caught us, but we've been doing that since I was driving the Nationwide car with them.

"It seems like this week when it got caught on camera, it was a lot bigger deal for some reason."

In the video, DeLana jumped and looked alarmed until she realized it was Stewart, with her husband close behind and laughing.

She later tweeted, "And for the record, if uncle tony wins today it's not my fault."

Stewart finished sixth in the race.

"I didn't even know anybody saw it," Stewart said. "It wasn't something that was out of the normal for us. Kevin comes up and gets me, I get DeLana, DeLana gets both of us.

"We've got a great friendship. It always makes her jump, and so it's something we've always joked about and talked about it being good luck. You do what works. … I'm just glad picking my nose wasn't that thing that's been good luck."

The video has received as much or more attention as Brad Keselowski winning the race and claiming the points lead for the first time in his career.

"That's pathetic," Stewart said. "It's pathetic because there is so much more stuff going on in our sport than that."

Stewart said the grab was not meant to be offensive to anyone.

"I never grab anybody that I thought would smack me," he said. "I'm not going to grab somebody that I would offend, because they know that I'm not doing it in any more than a playful way."

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter