Video Shows Tony Stewart In Confrontation With Tulsa Deputy At Chili Bowl
TULSA, Oklahoma - Fans are buzzing about an incident at Friday night's Lucas Oil Chili Bowl. YouTube video shows NASCAR and dirt track star Tony Stewart confronting a fan in the stands.
WARNING: The video contains graphic language.
The 2016 Chili Bowl Nationals bring hundreds of racers and thousands of fans into town for the midget car event.
The man, identified as Tulsa County Sheriff Corporal Kyle Hess, reportedly flipped off Stewart who then entered the stands to grapple with the Hess. Stewart appears to be smiling at times as he tells off the fan.
They exchange words and some shoving before security breaks it up.
The Tulsa County Sheriff's Office told News On 6 they are opening an investigation into the conduct of the corporal. They don't know if any disciplinary action will be taken, according to TCSO Spokesman Deputy Justin Green.
Spectator Tyler Haire filmed the incident. He talked to News On 6 reporter Tony Russell Saturday morning.
"This big fella was sitting up here, and every time Tony would come by on a tractor, he'd flip him off," said spectator Tyler Haire, who filmed the incident.
Haire thought Stewart was showing he's a regular guy, and he was supportive of the racer's actions. Other fans tell us they hate to see more bad press for Stewart.
"They were smiling, but all of a sudden something with south real quick you know?" witness Chuck Bradford said. "...We was watching Tony Stewart plow the track. The gentleman behind me was having a good time and he was kind of flipping Tony off and talking a little trash to him and Tony was kinda giving him a little hand gesture. You know, we was all laughing having a good time, and all of a sudden here comes Tony with a security guard he comes right up the stands here."
Haire turned on his camera as Stewart and Hess faced off.
"It's Tony Stewart, he's coming up the stands," Haire said. "I want to see it. That dude grabbed him and I started filming."
Not all fans are happy the incident is all over the Internet. And at least one doesn't think the controversial Stewart deserves any negative attention.
"I don't think Tony needs the bad press," spectator Mike Greenleaf said. "NASCAR fans are going to take it and they're going to throw him under the bus and make a big deal about it. As far as a fan, I was glad to see Tony up here, because he's had such a bad rep lately and I want to see him interacting with the fans."
Stewart, who's retiring as driver at the end of this year, is facing a wrongful death lawsuit from the family of a sprint car driver whom he accidentally hit during a race in 2014.
"He drinks Coke the same way I do," Haire said. "He's just a good race car driver."