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Drivers Council says it will pay Tony Stewart's fine
By Nick Bromberg - From The Marbles

Tony Stewart will have some help paying his $35,000 fine.

Stewart was fined by NASCAR on Thursday for (apparent) comments the sanctioning body believe degraded the sport. The Drivers Council, a group of drivers formed in 2015 to give drivers a unified voice when it came to discussing issues with NASCAR, released a statement to NBC Sports through Denny Hamlin that said it supported Stewart and would pay his fine.

We as drivers believe Tony has the right to speak his opinion on topics that pertain to a sport that he has spent nearly two decades helping build as both a driver and an owner. While we do not condone drivers lashing out freely at NASCAR, we do feel Tony was in his rights to state his opinion. We as a Council support him and do not agree with the fine. Therefore, we fellow council members have agreed to contribute equally to paying his fine.

The three-time champion said he was mad at NASCAR for the 2015 removal of a rule that mandated teams fasten all five lug nuts to a wheel. Teams are now fastening fewer than five lugs on a wheel at times in an effort to save fractions of a second on pit road and drivers are subsequently complaining of more loose wheels. Stewart said he felt loose wheels were a safety issue and was not the first driver to talk about his concerns with the rule.

And while NASCAR didn't specify in its penalty release what Stewart's fine was for, it doesn't take much to believe that the sanctioning body was unhappy with the words Stewart used in expressing his displeasure.

Stewart is a member of the driver's council, which also includes Kyle Busch, Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Larson. The statement is the first major public disagreement with NASCAR from the council and could set an interesting precedent going forward when drivers feel NASCAR is acting unjustly in doling out punishments.

Here's what Smoke said...hardly inflammatory. Quite frankly, just the opposite: