Troubled drivers get help

Posted: Thursday, August 08, 2002

ATLANTA -- Tony Stewart and Al Unser Jr. are taking steps toward silencing their demons.

Unser just completed a three-week substance abuse program, and Stewart said he will seek anger management counseling. They both hope to put their problems behind them and return to the only thing that's made sense in their lives: racing.

Unser gave up his ride with Kelley Racing on the Indy Rac ing League series to get help for alcohol abuse. He completed the three-week session this week and plans to be back in the car when the wildly competitive open-wheel series moves to Ken tucky Speedway.

Stewart has taken an important first step by admitting his emotions get out of control.

He was fined $10,000 and placed on probation until the end of the year after punching a photographer, Gary Mook of the Indianapolis Star, after Sun day's Brickyard 400 at Indian apolis Motor Speedway.

Stewart was riding second in the race during the final 10 laps, but he mysteriously faded to a 12th-place finish. He refused to talk to his own team about what happened with the car, then he punched the photographer as he tried to run from the raceway.

On Tuesday, Stewart said he will seek help.

''I need to do something to make it where I can control my anger better,'' he said. ''It's obvious over the last three-and-a-half years I can't do it on my own, so I'm going to seek professional help and get somebody that can help me learn how to control my emotion.''

Stewart said the fine and penalty weren't as severe as he deserved.

Stewart, who was fined $10,000 last year for slapping a tape recorder from a reporter's hand and kicking it under a tractor-trailer truck, said he will talk to Mook privately to offer an apology.

PIT STOPS: International Speed way Corp., which owns 12 raceways on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series schedule, has agreed to become partners with Pike's Peak Inter national Raceway. The 5-year-old track, located just south of Colorado Springs plays host to Busch and truck series races, as well as ARCA and Indy Racing League events. ISC said it has no plans to add a Winston Cup race. Junior Johnson, whose imprisonment for running moonshine made him the focus of Tom Wolfe's Last American Hero, will be grand marshal for the 35th annual Moonshine Fest i val in Dawsonville, Ga., in October.

Reach Don Coble at

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