CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Juan Pablo Montoya was fined $10,000 by NASCAR on Wednesday for making an obscene gesture on live television last week.
Montoya, who was also placed on probation through the end of the year, waved a finger at a camera following practice last week at Phoenix International Raceway. Team officials have maintained the gesture was made in fun and he was unaware the camera was providing a live feed.
"I really feel bad that the incident happened," Montoya said. "It was only meant as a joke to one of my friends. I completely understand NASCAR's point of view and their decision."
It's the first time the former Formula One star has fallen afoul of NASCAR policies against such gestures and obscene language.
Two-time series champion Tony Stewart made the same gesture toward Jimmie Johnson during a March race in Atlanta this season and was not penalized. That also was captured on live TV, but NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said he was unaware of Stewart's gesture when asked about it this week.
But Stewart's gesture was so obvious that Johnson saw it from his rear-view mirror and complimented Stewart the next week for being able to wave a finger while also preventing his car from crashing.
Stewart also made the same gesture at Carl Edwards last year at Pocono and was not penalized.