At Chicagoland Speedway's Tropicana 400 back in 2004, it was the battle of the crews as Tony Stewart's Stewart-Haas Racing team squared off against Kasey Kahne's squad at Evernham Motorsports. It all started after a restart on lap 127 of the 267-lap Cup race when Stewart passed Sterling Marlin, who was running in second place, and tapped Kahne's back bumper, sending him into outside wall coming into Turn 1.
John Andretti, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Scott Riggs, Jeff Gordon, Dave Blaney, and Jeff Burton were involved in the wreck, which eliminated Kahne, dropping him from first place to a credited finish of 36th. Stewart would end up winning the race, earning his first victory of the season and his first Cup win at Chicagoland, but not before his and Kahne's crews had themselves a scuffle on pit road.
It may be hard to tell what's going on from the clip (unfortunately, video quality back in 2004 was leaps and bounds behind what we're working with today), but the fight basically went down several seconds after the wreck when Kahne's crew chief Tommy Baldwin stormed into Stewart's pit, after which Baldwin and Greg Zipadelli, Stewart's crew chief, had a heated exchange. That's when members of both crews started fighting.
"I was just talking to (Zipadelli) and telling him his driver is a moron," Baldwin said after the brawl. "They started pushing me and then the official grabbed me. I don't know what happened after that."
As it turns out, Stewart's collision with Kahne wasn't their first run-in in 2004. A couple months earlier at Darlington Raceway, Stewart bumped Kahne from behind, though he was able to keep racing and ended up placing 13th. Even still, Kahne and his team were fed up with the way that Stewart had been racing them all year.
"(Stewart) was doing what he's been doing all year -- driving like a moron," Baldwin continued. "There's no reason to do that stuff, and he gets away with it all he wants and all NASCAR does is fine him. He's got plenty of money, the guy needs to sit out a race. That's it."
While Baldwin didn't mince words when it came to Stewart, Ray Evernham, the team owner of Evernham Motorsports, went even harder at the now three-time Cup champ and NASCAR Hall of Famer.
"He definitely needs to get suspended, and he should have his ass beat," Evernham said. "That's the problem with him. Nobody has ever really grabbed him and given him a good beating. If he doesn't get suspended, maybe I'll do that."
Stewart had actually been on probation at the time of the Chicagoland incident, having wrecked Brian Vickers two weeks prior at Sonoma Raceway, which also earned him a $50,000 fine and 25 championship points getting docked. He wouldn't end up getting punished for bumping Kahne, with NASCAR spokesman Herb Branham saying that the situation was "a racing incident and nothing more."
Despite no suspension being dished out, Evernham decided not to give into his baser instincts and allowed Tony to head into the next week's race with his ass very much unbeat. Hey, probably for the best.