Tony Stewart was fined $25,000 and docked 25 points by NASCAR at last year’s Brickyard for cursing during his television interview after his win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  

Stewart, who had just scored his second victory in three years at his hometown race track, was soaking up the adoration from the throng of orange-clad fans when he dedicated the win to them.

“This one’s for every one of those fans in the stands who pull for me every week and take all the (expletive) from everybody else,” he said.

The curse came on ESPN’s first Nextel Cup broadcast since 2000.

NASCAR, which called the language inappropriate and said Stewart’s actions were detrimental to stock car racing, also docked car owner Joe Gibbs 25 points. It follows a precedent that started in 2002, when crew chief Chad Knaus was penalized for cursing on TV.

Stewart has been known for his hot-headed temper. Stewart punched Gary Mook, a freelance photographer for The Indianapolis Star, after a race. Mook was trying to take pictures of Stewart as he hustled through the garage area, when Stewart stopped and hit him in the chest. “He struck me in the chest,” Mook told The Star in a story printed Monday. “I ran, I got in front of him to take a picture and I got off one frame. He came toward me and struck me in the chest to get me out of the way. I didn’t pursue him.”

He has also been known to push past cameras and reporters as he hurries out of the track following disappointing performances, and he was fined for an altercation at Daytona.

After NASCAR tried to black-flag him in the 2001 Pepsi 400, Stewart had to be restrained by Gibbs and crew chief Greg Zipadelli during an argument with a NASCAR official, then slapped away a reporter’s tape recorder and kicked it when the reporter tried to pick it up.

He was fined $10,000 for that, had the stint of probation he already was on extended for the entire year and was ordered to publicly apologize to the reporter.

Looking back:

Tony Stewart won Sunday’s Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. The No.20 Home Depot Chevy took the checkered flag 2.982-seconds ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya.

The victory was Stewart’s second in a row, second of the 2007 season and 31st of his Nextel Cup career.

Reed Sorenson led the field to the green flag to begin 160 high-speed laps at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was a clean start and Sorenson led the first lap as has every pole winner since they started coming here in 1994.

On the move early on was Indiana native Stewart, who started 14th, but cracked the top-five in the first 10 laps. By lap 15 he was third behind Sorenson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

When Jeff Green spun on lap 16 Stewart’s pit crew helped their driver gain the final two spots and put the 2005 winner into the lead.

On the restart, “Junior” was all over Stewart and as they reached the front straight he made the move to the inside for the lead. Just after the pass Ryan Newman slammed the wall to bring out a second caution flag.

Earnhardt Jr. opened his lead up to two seconds as the field passed the 30-lap mark. The lead hovered around two seconds as Earnhardt Jr. and Stewart exchanged fastest laps.

Then on lap 40 Kasey Kahne clipped the corner of Tony Raines and both drivers spun to bring out another caution flag.

On lap 47 defending champion Jimmie Johnson got into Jamie McMurray and their spin collected Scott Riggs, 2002 Brickyard winner Bill Elliott and Ricky Rudd.

When the race finally restarted Stewart got around Earnhardt Jr., but once again a crash interrupted the flow of the race. Then again on lap 62 Johnson slammed the wall and this time the No.48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet burst into flames to end his day.

“The hit wasn’t too bad, but the flames had me nervous,” said Johnson, who quickly pulled his car onto the infield. “I could feel the right-side of my face getting hot.”

On the third of the three incidents, the field strategies split. Six drivers including new leader Kyle Busch stayed out and inherited the top-six spots on the track. Montoya took fuel only and was the first of the pitting cars to return to the track in sixth and Stewart (two tires) came out seventh.

Another caution flag and those that hadn’t stopped did so giving the lead back to Stewart.

Still more caution flags and Greg Biffle, David Gilliland and Clint Bowyer used two-tire changes to grab the top-three spots.

However, when the race went back to green Kevin Harvick and Stewart quickly picked off Bowyer and Gilliland. Harvick caught Biffle on lap 100 and two laps later charged into the lead down the backstretch. Biffle was no match for Stewart either and dropped to third place. On lap 111 Stewart caught and passed Harvick and was 49 laps from his second Brickyard 400 win.

In the clean air, the No.20 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet was the quickest car on the track and easily built the lead to more than two seconds. Stewart’s lead ballooned to 4.571 seconds with 40 laps to go.

Stewart pitted with 33 laps remaining, his final stop of the day. He took four new tires and fuel and was set to run to the finish. They cycled through without any caution flags and Stewart returned to the lead with 31 laps to go. His lead was 2.910 seconds.

The 2005 Nextel Cup champion again built his lead and with 25 to go was up by 3.804 seconds, but when “Junior’s” engine let go the caution flag flew and Stewart’s huge lead was erased.

“We just had bad luck, we’ve had good motors all year long,” said Earnhardt Jr.

Officials cleaned up the oil left on the track and the race restarted with 20 laps to go. Harvick made a move to the bottom of the track on the restart and he grabbed the lead from Stewart.

“I just went down into (turn) one and got really, really tight for some reason,” said Stewart.

Gordon was third and Montoya fourth. But Montoya was looking to make some history and he took third from Gordon on lap 142. He was three seconds behind the two leaders so he would need a caution flag for a shot at a win.

Meanwhile, Harvick and Stewart were well out in front and it seemed to be a two-car race. Stewart took a look on the inside with 15 to go, but he couldn’t complete the move. He made the same attempt at the end of the backstretch with 13 to go, but again Harvick turned him away. The third time was the charm and after getting Harvick a little loose he completed the pass with 10 laps to go.

“I got a good run on him off of (turn) one and got by,” said Stewart. “That’s a hard guy to race with, he’s a clean guy and one of my best friends. I can’t think of another guy I’d want to race for the lead.

Stewart built the lead to 0.964 seconds with eight to go and 1.347 seconds one lap later. He continued to build the lead and he cruised to the checkered flag unchallenged.

“We had a pretty good race car and this was probably the smartest race I’ve ever seen him drive,” said crew chief Greg Zipadelli.

“Tony was strong and he deserved the win,” said Gordon.

Gordon, Kyle Busch and Sorenson completed the top-five, while Harvick finished seventh.

Rating the drivers:

Similar track stats are stats combined from tracks that are similar. Indianapolis is like Pocono. They are both 2.5 mile with shallow banking. Below are the top 15 drivers by average finish.

1-Jeff Gordon (Indy-4.0) (Poc-5.0) Avg-4.5
2-Mark Martin (Indy-7.0) (Poco-5.0) Avg-6.0
3-Tony Stewart (Indy-7.0) (Poco-7.0) Avg-7.0
4-Kurt Busch (Indy-11.0) (Poco-8.0) Avg-9.5
5-Kyle Busch (Indy-7.0) (Poco-12.0) Avg-9.5
6-Denny Hamlin (Indy-16.0) (Poc-3.0) Avg-9.5
7-Kevin Harvick (Indy-7.0) (Poc-13.0) Avg-10.0
8-Matt Keneth (Indy-7.5) (Poc-13.0) Avg-10.3
9-Juan Montoya (Indy-2.0) (Poc-20.0) Avg-11.0
10-Jeff Burton (Indy-15.0) (Poc-10.0) Avg-12.5
11-Carl Edwards (Indy-12.0) (Poc-14.0) Avg-13.0
12-Bobby Labonte (Indy-15.0) (Poc-11.0) Avg-13.0
13-Clint Bowyer (Indy-8.5) (Poc-21.0) Avg-14.8
14-Dale Jr. (Indy-18.0) (Poc-13.0) Avg-15.5
15-Brian Vickers (Indy-19.0) (Poc-13.0) Avg-16.0

Who’s on a hot streak:

In the last 5 races, these drivers are on a roll. Below are the top driver averages for the past five races.

1-Matt Kenseth (7.8)
2-Kyle Busch (8.2)
3-Brian Vickers (10.2)
4-Tony Stewart (10.6)
5-Jimmie Johnson (11.0)
6-Dale Jr. (12.2)
7-Martin Truex Jr. (12.6)
8-Carl Edwards (13.4)
9-Kevin Harvick (14.2)
10-Jeff Gordon (14.6)
11-Clint Bowyer (16.6)
12-Elliot Sadler (16.8)
13-David Ragan (17.0)
14-Kurt Busch (17.2)
15-Mark Martin (17.3)

Track Numbers

NASCAR Cup Series Races: 14
Pole Winners: 7
Race Winners: 9
The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was held in 1994.
Five drivers have competed in all 14 races at IMS: Jeff Burton, Bill Elliott, Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte and Mark Martin.
Rick Mast won the first pole in 1994.
Jeff Gordon won the 1994 inaugural race.
Jeff Gordon leads all pole winners with three.
Nine drivers have won, led by Jeff Gordon with four.
Dale Jarrett (two) and Tony Stewart (two) are the other multiple winners.
Hendrick Motorsports has won five races, more than any other organization.
Seven races have been won from a top-five starting position.
The furthest back a race winner has started at Indianapolis was 27th, by Jeff Gordon in 2001.
There has been one green-white-checkered finish at Indianapolis: 2004 (161/160).
The only time in the modern era that three brothers led at least one lap in the same race occurred in the inaugural race at Indianapolis (1994): Geoffrey, Brett and Todd Bodine.
Dale Jarrett (1996) and Jimmie Johnson (2006) are the only drivers to win both the Daytona 500 and the Allstate 400 in the same season.
Kyle Busch has an average finish of 7.0 in three Indianapolis races, the best of any driver with more than one race.

The winner of the Indianapolis race has won the championship in the same year six times in the 14 years the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has raced at Indy:
2006: Jimmie Johnson
2005: Tony Stewart
2001: Jeff Gordon
2000: Bobby Labonte
1999: Dale Jarrett
1998: Jeff Gordon
Track Records

Track qualifying record: Casey Mears (186.293 mph, 48.311 secs., 8-7-04)
Track race record: Bobby Labonte (155.912 mph, 8-5-00)
Qualifying/Race Data

2007 pole winner: Reed Sorenson (184.207 mph, 48.858 seconds)
2007 race winner: Tony Stewart, 117.379 mph, 7-29-07)
Indianapolis Race Day Data

Estimated Pit Window: Every 30-32 laps, based on fuel mileage.
Race # 20 of 36 (7-27-08)
Track Size: 2.5 miles
Race Length: 400 miles (160 laps)
Banking/Corners: 9 degrees
Banking/Straights: 0 degrees

Will Tony Stewart lose his cool again or just cruise to victory? Juan Pablo Montoya has a great average, but only from one race. He could be a spoiler for Stewart. Don’t count out surprise “Hot Streak” drivers like Brian Vickers and Elliot Sadler. This will be a hard call to make with the winner, but I hope I gave you enough food for thought. I am torn between Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch. Good luck and enjoy the race, if you’re like me you are past ready after this week off.