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Stewart Shaken Up in Irwindale Crash

November 29, 2002|Tony Solorzano | Special to the Times

Tony Stewart, NASCAR's Winston Cup champion, was shaken up after being involved in a crash during the 100-lap Western States Midget feature on Thursday night at Irwindale Speedway.

Stewart, who earlier won the United States Auto Club's 40-lap Western Sprint Car event in the 62nd Turkey Night Grand Prix before 6,500 at Irwindale Speedway, did not require hospitalization.

Michael Lewis held off Kasey Kahne to win the midget feature.

"I wasn't sure about our chances before the race, but we hit it right on tonight," Lewis said.

Kahne, who completed his rookie year in the NASCAR Busch Grand National series, was battling Lewis for the lead while Stewart attempted to catch the leaders from third place.

Stewart began to make a move when the leaders entered lap traffic. On Lap 46, Stewart and Aaron Fike collided, ending both drivers' nights.

The throttle on Fike's car appeared to get stuck, and he ran into Stewart as both entered the third turn.

After the restart, Lewis and Kahne pulled away again.

With both drivers running on Beast chassis on Ed Pink Ford engines, it was only a question of Kahne getting an opportunity to challenge Lewis for the lead, but Lewis held him off at the end, winning by 0.101 seconds.

In the Western Sprints feature, Stewart took the lead on Lap 3 and cruised to victory over Eric Butze and Scott Hansen.

After taking the lead, Stewart jumped to as much as a four-second lead over his challengers.

Stewart, always one who speaks his mind, took a dig at the burgeoning NASCAR fan base by praising the Irwindale fans for not being "wannabes like some fans, who want to be real racing fans like you."

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