-- Tony Stewart will pay his recent $35,000 fine from NASCAR on his own and donate the money given to him by fellow drivers to charity.
The nine-member NASCAR Sprint Cup Drivers Council, of which Stewart is a member, decided to give him the money to pay the fine for comments that denigrate the sport.
The $35,000 from the Drivers Council will go to Autism Delaware, founded by NASCAR on Fox coordinating director Artie Kempner.
"I appreciated the Drivers Council support, but I didn't want them to pay the fine. We decided as a group to donate the money to charity," Stewart said in a statement. "Artie is such a good friend to all of us and his foundation does a lot of great work."
Members of the Drivers Council change each year, with the top-finishing driver from each manufacturer earning an automatic spot, while others are voted in based on performance and length of time in the sport. The members of the 2016 council are Stewart, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson and Joey Logano.
"We just think that there should be a little bit of leniency there for someone that knows a lot about our sport and has been in our sport a long time," Hamlin said Friday. "He gave his opinion, and especially when it's something on safety, too, I think it's pretty important."
Stewart said last week that "we shouldn't be playing games with safety to win races" by not requiring teams to have five tight lug nuts on each wheel following a pit stop. NASCAR announced Monday that it would start requiring five lug nuts to be installed in a safe and secure manner, but it did not announce a system that would be able to monitor it on every pit stop.
Stewart's NASCAR fine also will end up going to charity. Fines collected by NASCAR go to its NASCAR Foundation.