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After a misunderstanding in first practice, Stewart takes out frustrations on rookie driver.
MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Matt DiBenedetto was just looking for an opening on the track during practice – that’s when he aroused the wrath of Tony Stewart on Friday.
On the track, the three-time champion flipped off the rookie and yelled at him. Off the track, when the driver of the No. 83 BK Racing Toyota tried to explain what happened, DiBenedetto’s attempt was futile.
“I went up to him to apologize and explain the situation to him,” DiBenedetto told Motorsport.com. “I’m not an idiot. I wouldn’t just pull in front of him. I told him the 19 pulled out in front of me on the racetrack. That checked up all of my momentum and by that time – things happen so fast around here – that's when I got to Turn 3, he was getting a few car lengths of me so I just pulled over to let him go.
“He didn’t understand. I tried to tell him what happened, but he just told me I just needed to get out of the way and whatever. He really just didn’t know what to say.”
DiBenedetto, 23, has 49 starts in the XFINITY Series but just started racing for BKR this season after moonlighting as a test driver for Joe Gibbs Racing.
" He’s just an arrogant prick. He has anger issues and needs to focus on driving the race car."
Stewart, 43, has 48 career Cup wins but has struggled to get up to speed this season. Last weekend at Auto Club Speedway, Stewart was running towards the front of the field when Martin Truex Jr. came across the nose of the No. 14 Chevy and stalled his momentum. The two drivers “discussed” the situation following the race and Truex called Stewart again on Monday.
After first practice, Stewart was 18th on the speed chart with a lap of 96.864 mph. Ryan Newman led the session with a speed of 97.835 mph. DiBenedetto was 32nd (96.078mph).
“He’s just an arrogant prick,” DiBenedetto said. “He has anger issues and needs to focus on driving the race car other than dedicating the whole practice session to blocking somebody when it wasn’t something I did intentionally.
“I don’t care who he is, he’s barking up the wrong tree.”