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Stewart goes after Vickers off track

SONOMA, Calif. -- Tony Stewart and Brian Vickers collided on
the course at Infineon Raceway on Sunday, and that led to a clash
off course.

Vickers said Stewart ran into him early in the race, then
knocked him off course in the 85th lap of NASCAR's Dodge/Save Mart
350.

``Then after the race he came over to the car and then it just
went from there,'' Vickers said.

``I was still strapped in my car with my helmet off. He reached
for me and knocked the breath out of me ... He hit the armrest and
he reached in the car and he grabbed me in the chest and when he
did hit me, it was kind of open palm.

``My team grabbed him and pulled him off of me,'' Vickers added.

Vickers said he was joking with Stewart about the wreck.

``Somebody is upset with me because he wrecked me and I thought
it was funny,'' the 20-year-old rookie said. ``This is not a
situation that I'm going to make a big deal out of. I'm sure NASCAR
will do the right thing. They'll take care of it.

``If this happened at a restaurant, it would be my problem to
handle. This happened at the racetrack and they're running the
deal.''

Stewart and Vickers were both summoned to the NASCAR hauler to
tell their sides of the story and a NASCAR spokesman said there
would be further investigation of the incident before a decision is
made on possible penalties.

Stewart, who also ran into Ward Burton early in the race,
finished 15th, while Vickers finished 22nd.

The Other Gordon
It couldn't have been a much more dismal
weekend for the defending race champion.

First Robby Gordon qualified a very disappointing 24th on
Friday. Then, he lost a left front wheel on lap 16 of Sunday's race
and hit a tire wall.

Sixteen laps later, he was back in the pits to replace a sway
bar damaged in the crash.

``If you lose a tire, you can't steer the thing,'' he said. ``If
the front end gets bent, you don't run so good.

``Once the wheel fell off, I lost the sway bar, then a link got
into the tire and it popped the tire,'' he said.

Another stop, this time for another sway bar and another
shredded tire and the changer threw the damaged tire on the air
hose, snapping it.

Then he ran over a piece of debris on lap 80, shredding his
right front and shunting off course.

``I can't believe we threw this race away,'' a disgusted Gordon
said to his team on his radio.

Gordon handily won the 2003 race over Jeff Gordon.

No Lucky Dog for you
NASCAR dropped the ``lucky dog'' on Sunday at
Infineon Raceway.

Instead of the double-file restarts used on ovals, in which the
driver of the first car a lap down starts at the end of the lead
lap, NASCAR decided on Sunday to end its rule for Infineon's
twisting 1.99-mile course.

NASCAR spokesman Mike Zizzo said the same policy was likely to
be followed in August at Watkins Glen International -- the Nextel
Cup's only other road course.

Said's triple duty
Veteran road course racer Boris Said pulled
triple duty over the weekend, running in the Nextel Cup race and
the Trans-Am event on Sunday and the Southwest Tour race on
Saturday.

Said, who was on the pole for the 2003 race here, qualified 19th
for the Cup race and finished sixth, the same spot as last year.

He qualified first in the Southwest race and led most of the
distance before his rear end failed and he spun on the last lap,
relegating him to a 25th-place finish.

Said topped qualifiers in the Trans-Am and, after receiving
intravenous hydration following the Nextel Cup race, led all 100
miles to beat out Tommy Kendall by just under a second.

Waltrip's persistence pays
After blowing an engine in his qualifying
attempt, Michael Waltrip started at the back of the field but
finished fourth.

``With a good car, you can come from the back to the front once.
It'd be a stretch to do it twice, so I knew I couldn't run off the
road, couldn't make a mistake,'' he said.

Waltrip's best previous finish in 16 starts at Sonoma was 12th
in 2001.

Miscellaneous
Mark Martin, who won at Sonoma in 1997, finished
eighth for his 13th top 10 finish in 16 starts here. ... Klaus
Graf, the first German driver to run a NASCAR Cup race since Rolf
Stommelen in 1971, finished 17th. ... Jeff Gordon led 92 laps on
Sunday, 11 more than the previous Infineon record set by Robby
Gordon last year.