Stewart treated for minor burns and released

Updated: April 17, 2005, 7:28 PM ET
Associated Press

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Tony Stewart made a fiery exit Sunday.

With 37 laps left in the NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Texas, something broke on Stewart's car, creating a fireball from underneath. Once the car rolled to a stop on the backstretch, Stewart scrambled out quickly.

He was treated at the infield medical center and released.

"Tony has some first-degree burns,'' Joe Gibbs Racing spokesman Mike Arning said. "There is a small burn on the lower back of his right thigh that's about the size of a fist. The other area is on his right elbow about the size of the one on his thigh, and it's more like a bad sunburn.

"Both are minor burns, which he'll treat on his own in the coming days.''

After leading the Samsung/RadioShack 500 twice for 45 laps, Stewart finished 31st.

Ganassi team thrives
Roush Racing won its third race of the year and powerful Hendrick Motorsports had a third-place car, but the other three finishers in the top five Sunday were Dodges fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing.

"All year long, people have talked about Hendrick teams and Roush teams,'' said Jamie McMurray, who finished second behind Greg Biffle. "It's incredible to see all three (Ganassi) teams finish in the top five. ... The whole organization has just gotten stronger.''

Jimmie Johnson was third, followed by Ganassi drivers Casey Mears and Sterling Marlin.

"The boys on the crew have done an excellent job, and it's showing up on the track,'' Marlin said.

"It's not surprising when one of our teams do well that the others do,'' McMurray said. "Chip is very big on everything being exactly the same. That makes it nice.''

Bobby's bad luck
Bobby Labonte couldn't shake his tough luck, even while running at the finish of a race for only the third time this season.

Labonte woke up Sunday with flu-like symptoms. Then just 32 laps into the 334-lap race got caught up in an accident that did heavy damage to the front end of the car.

"Everything was happening in front of me,'' said Labonte, one of five other drivers involved after Mark Martin made contact with Jeff Green. "I was looking at a switch, and everybody started checking up.''

Labonte finished 38th, 102 laps off the pace. He had crashed out of two other races, with engine problems in two others and stands 37th in the season points.

Busch disqualification
Johnny Sauter drove both races this weekend in Texas, but the record book won't show his participation Saturday in the Busch Series race.

NASCAR on Sunday took the unusual step of disqualifying the No. 1 car driven by Sauter in the Busch O'Reilly 300. He finished 14th, but an illegal carburetor was discovered during a postrace inspection of the car owned by James Finch.

"It falls in the category of blatant,'' NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said. "It's just like the No. 1 car never raced (Saturday) ... no points, no money. It's a total disqualification.''

Hunter said Sauter's car was picked at random for inspection, and that more penalties were possible. That could include suspensions and/or fines.

Sauter was 41st Sunday.

Rumor Central
The silly season has gotten off to an early start, with the Nextel Cup garage abuzz all weekend with rumors and speculation about possible driver changes for 2006.

The two biggest rumors appeared to have little validity. Biffle and Ryan Newman are likely to stay put next year.

Biffle is going into the final year of his contract with Roush Racing. After winning Sunday's race, he said he has no doubts about returning to the team next year.

The former Busch Series and truck champion is one of the first names that comes up for just about every possible ride. Biffle said he is still negotiating for a possible extension with Roush.

Don Miller, co-owner of Penske Racing South with Roger Penske and Rusty Wallace, said the rumor that he, Newman and crew chief Matt Borland were going to switch from Dodge to Chevrolet and start their own team "just isn't true.''

Newman has a year left on his contract. Borland's contract is up at the end of 2005.

Wallace is driving his final full season. There has also been talk that the former series champion will leave Penske and run his own team with the intention of eventually fielding a car for his 17-year-old son. Steven Wallace is running late model stocks and recently signed with Dodge's driver development program.

Miller said Wallace hasn't indicated what his plans are.

"That's up to Rusty,'' Miller said. "Steven is a terrific prospect and it may be that we take an interest in his future, too.''

No double
Kasey Kahne won the Busch race Saturday and started third Sunday, but couldn't pull off the NASCAR's third two-win weekend this season.

Kahne was running fifth when "something broke'' on the 271st lap.

The last two times Cup and Busch races were on the same track, a driver had a weekend sweep: Carl Edwards at Atlanta and Kevin Harvick at Bristol.

Miscellaneous
There was a sellout crowd estimated by race officials at 211,000. ... Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman and actor George Lopez provided a bilingual delivery of "Gentlemen, Start Your Engines'' -- a first for NASCAR. Lopez said each word in Spanish, and Aikman followed in English. ... Chex cereal was introduced Sunday as the title sponsor for the June 10 NASCAR truck race at Texas.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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