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Stewart treated for minor burns and released

4/17/2005

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.