Team owner Tony Stewart frustrated by NASCAR penalties

AP photo by Mark Humphrey / Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Tony Stewart, right, said Wednesday that he's "so mad at NASCAR right now," he wouldn't talk about the sanctioning body's latest penalties levied at SHR.

FORT WORTH, Texas — With his team still appealing $200,000 in fines and allegations from NASCAR that Stewart-Haas Racing manipulated the finish of the most recent Cup Series playoff race, co-owner Tony Stewart opted to not discuss that matter Wednesday.

"I'm not going to talk about it," Stewart said. "I'm so mad at NASCAR right now, I'm not talking about it."

NASCAR said Tuesday that a review of data and team communications showed SHR manipulated the results of Sunday's playoff elimination race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina.

While still moving forward with the appeal in that case, SHR has dropped its appeal of earlier penalties, including $100,000 in fines, against driver Kevin Harvick and crew chief Rodney after the No. 4 Ford used in the Oct. 2 race at Alabama's Talledega Superspeedway failed inspection last week during a in-depth inspection at NASCAR's North Carolina R&D Center.

The announcement of SHR dropping its appeal of the Talladega penalties was announced after Stewart spoke with reporters Wednesday at Texas Motor Speedway. A few hours later, SHR chief competition officer Greg Zipadelli said in a release about the race manipulation charges that the team "denies any wrongdoing and will vigorously defend its personnel" in the appeals process.

Stewart, the NASCAR Hall of Fame driver and three-time Cup Series champion nicknamed "Smoke," was in the Lone Star State for his 13th Smoke Show racing fantasy camp. In its history, the event has raised more than $1.5 million for Speedway Children's Charities in Texas, but it hadn't been held the past two years because of the coronavirus pandemic.

After the camp, he will go about 75 miles for this weekend's NHRA Texas Fall Nationals in Ennis.

"Super glad I'm going drag racing this weekend," said Stewart, who has a car in each of NHRA's top two divisions. "If it weren't for the fact that I've got a couple of appearances that I have to make, I wouldn't be in another NASCAR race the rest of the year. Wouldn't waste my time."

Asked if he was still having fun with NHRA, Stewart responded: "Love it. The atmosphere is way different, way different. And I like the atmosphere there; I have all year."

On Sunday at Charlotte, SHR No. 41 Ford driver Cole Custer appeared to deliberately hold up a line of traffic on the venue's Roval layout as teammate Chase Briscoe stormed past in a desperate effort to move into the third round of the playoffs.

"Nothing contradicted that that was done deliberately," NASCAR senior vice president of competition Scott Miller said Tuesday.

Briscoe finished ninth, good enough to bump 2021 Cup Series champion Kyle Larson from the playoff field as it was trimmed from 12 drivers to eight for the next round of three races. Briscoe earned the eighth spot in the field by two points over Larson.

NASCAR levied a $100,000 fine for Custer and the loss of 50 driver points, as well as the loss of 50 owner points for SHR. Custer's crew chief, Mike Shiplett, was also fined $100,000 and suspended indefinitely.

Tuesday night on Twitter, Stewart posted this: "Looking for a new weekend hobby (something not south eastern based) if anyone has any ideas. Something low drama and relaxing preferably."

This week, that includes catching some drag racing.

Bowman out a while

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Alex Bowman said he will miss the next three Cup Series races because of a concussion he sustained last month during a crash in NASCAR's first-year Next Gen car.

The 29-year-old Hendrick Motorsports driver, who sat out the past two races, will miss Sunday's event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway — where he was the winner in March — then also sit out at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Virginia's Martinsville Speedway. He was one of the 12 drivers who reached the second round of the Cup Series playoffs and received a medical waiver that allowed him to remain eligible for the title despite missing races, but without the chance to win or gain enough points by being behind the wheel, he was unable to advance to the third round.

Bowman said he was evaluated Wednesday by Dr. Micky Collins, clinical director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program.

"We have a tremendous amount of respect for the entire staff at UPMC," Jeff Andrews, president and general manager of Hendrick Motorsports, said in a team release. "Our priority continues to be Alex's recovery and long-term health, and we will follow the plan that Dr. Collins and his team recommend. We're not looking past the next three races and will evaluate plans for the season finale as the event approaches."

Bowman posted this on social media: "I am continuing to focus my efforts on getting my health back to 100% so that I can return racing as soon as possible."

The native of Tucson, Arizona, did not rule out driving in the Nov. 6 season finale at his home track, Phoenix Raceway. Noah Gragson will continue to fill in for Bowman in the No. 48 car.

Bowman and 23XI Racing's Kurt Busch have both been sidelined with concussions incurred in what should have been routine hits in NASCAR's new car.

Officials for the sanctioning body held a meeting with drivers this past weekend to go over findings from testing and planned changes that should be implemented to the car by the start of next season. NASCAR has said it will pay for the new parts and corrections for all the teams.

Busch, meanwhile, has a news conference scheduled for Saturday at Las Vegas, his home track. The 44-year-old with 34 career wins and the 2004 season title on NASCAR's top circuit has missed 13 consecutive races so far.