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NASCAR driver Tony Stewart gets flagged for weighty issue

Associated Press logo Associated Press 2/14/2015 By MARK LONG

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) Tony Stewart opened Speedweeks with a weighty - and heated - issue.

Stewart was visibly upset Friday as he stormed through the garage after getting black flagged for failing to step on a scale before getting behind the wheel.

Stewart was one of 25 drivers practicing for Saturday night's exhibition Sprint Unlimited, but one of just three who didn't weigh in before the session started. Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch also had to return to the scale after getting in their cars.

Stewart didn't heed the initial call.

NASCAR eventually flagged Stewart, ordering him back to the garage to get weighed. But he refused, and when he did finally park his car after his practice run ended, Stewart and crew chief Chad Johnston were called to the NASCAR hauler for what likely was a stern lecture about following the rules.

They emerged 10 minutes later, and Stewart headed straight for the scale.

Tony Stewart walks to the garages after there was an issue with the weight of his car during a practice session for rhw NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Friday, Feb. 13, 2015, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Terry Renna) © (AP Photo/Terry Renna Tony Stewart walks to the garages after there was an issue with the weight of his car during a practice session for rhw NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Friday, Feb. 13, 2015, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)

Stewart refused to answer questions about what happened on the track and in the hauler, but was overheard telling teammate Kevin Harvick's crew that he was called in because he didn't weigh in and didn't heed the black flag.

Each driver is required to step on the scale so the minimum car weights can be calculated. Heavier drivers, like Stewart, can have slightly lighter cars.

Stewart's spotter, Bob Jeffrey, weighed in on Twitter, posting ''In my 35+yrs that was a 1st.''

Stewart's chaos was the highlight of the day. Some other things to know about what's going on at Daytona International Speedway leading into the season-opening Daytona 500:

BLIND DRAW: The starting order for the Sprint Unlimited was set by blind draw Friday, and Paul Menard landed the pole. Kasey Kahne will start second, followed by Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. Defending Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick will start eighth, ahead of defending race winner Denny Hamlin (ninth), Jeff Gordon (11th), Danica Patrick (15th), Jimmie Johnson (17th), Tony Stewart (22nd) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (24th).

Tony Stewart walks to the garages after there was an issue with the weight of his car during a practice session for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Friday, Feb. 13, 2015, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Terry Renna) © (AP Photo/Terry Renna Tony Stewart walks to the garages after there was an issue with the weight of his car during a practice session for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Friday, Feb. 13, 2015, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)

ARCA PREVIEW: Frank Kimmel may not be the oldest driver to beat in Saturday's ARCA race. But asked who was the driver to beat, Kimmel was blunt:

''This is the best shot I've ever had,'' the 52-year-old Kimmel said. ''This car is exceptional.''

Kimmel starts eighth in the first race of Speedweeks. Pole winner Mark Thompson has Kimmel beat by seven spots - and 11 years.

The 63-year-old Thompson became the oldest pole winner in any series at Daytona. He turned a lap of 187.336 mph to win his first pole in 17 years. Thompson won three other poles, all at Michigan International Speedway, two in 1996 and one in 1997.

He passed Vern Slagh to become the oldest ARCA Series pole winner at Daytona.

Tony Stewart stands on a scale in the garages after there was an issue with the weight of his car during a practice session for a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Friday, Feb. 13, 2015, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Terry Renna) © (AP Photo/Terry Renna Tony Stewart stands on a scale in the garages after there was an issue with the weight of his car during a practice session for a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Friday, Feb. 13, 2015, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)

''Winning the pole at Daytona is a big deal,'' Thompson said. ''It's special. There's probably not a place I'd rather win the pole than here.''

The stock car series, which has no affiliation with NASCAR, often runs as a support race during the weekend show.

Bobby Gerhart starts 14th in the 40-car field as he attempts to win for the ninth time on the 2 1/2-mile superspeedway. Joe Gibbs Racing driver Daniel Suarez is sixth.

TEAM KENNEDY: Ben Kennedy Racing introduced 16-year-old driver Kaz Grala for its NASCAR K&N Pro Series East entry.

Grala will debut in the No. 3 Toyota Camry on Sunday at New Smyrna Speedway. Mike Fritts was chosen crew chief.

''This year will be all about making the cars fast and racing to the front,'' Grala said.

Grala may be eligible to race in the K&N Series, but he still doesn't have a driver's license. Grala joked that he barely passed the written test.

Kennedy is the great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. On hand for the Friday announcement was his mother, Lesa France Kennedy, who serves on NASCAR's board of directors.

Denny Hamlin, left, and Joey Logano talk in the garages during a practice session for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Friday, Feb. 13, 2015, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Denny Hamlin, left, and Joey Logano talk in the garages during a practice session for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Friday, Feb. 13, 2015, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
© (AP Photo/John Raoux

KAHNE RETURN: Kasey Kahne needed only a couple of days off to regret his decision to skip the prestigious Chili Bowl.

Drivers Tony Stewart, left, and Brian Vickers take part in a television interview during NASCAR media day at Daytona International Speedway, Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) © (AP Photo/John Raoux Drivers Tony Stewart, left, and Brian Vickers take part in a television interview during NASCAR media day at Daytona International Speedway, Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Kahne, who raced sprint cars last month in Arizona, decided to sit out the biggest midget race on the circuit. He missed the atmosphere and the race so much that he already ordered a midget car for next year's race. He hoped to have it in April.

''Sometimes, you have to take a year off to realize that you want to be there again,'' Kahne said. ''I love watching the fans there each night. I watched video every single night and each night you see the place is just about full. (It was) full the last three or four nights and I just love watching that and the excitement that Chili Bowl brings.''

AP Sports Writer Dan Gelston contributed to this report.

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