Tony Stewart considers his fine payment 'well-invested'

RICHMOND, Virginia – Tony Stewart doesn't seem too deterred by the $35,000 fine NASCAR levied against him on Thursday.

Stewart, who was interviewed at his car before Sunday's race by Fox Sports 1, said he considered his fine for (likely) speaking out against NASCAR's lug nut rules "well-invested. Via NBC Sports:

“I understand what NASCAR is trying to do but I’m always going to speak my mind,” the three-time champion told Fox Sports before Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway. “And I don’t know what the key word or key phrase was that got me fined, but when it comes to safety, I’m not going to hold back. That’s $35,000 well invested if it makes it safer for these guys.”

NASCAR didn't specify what Stewart's fine was for, but given his public comments during the week involved lug nut rules and his return to the Sprint Cup Series, we can safely assume what topic got Stewart in trouble.

The Drivers Council, which Stewart is a member of, said it would step up and pay Stewart's fine because it didn't agree with the penalty. Denny Hamlin, who issued the statement from the council, said the drivers felt they should be able to speak their minds freely.

“I think it kind of shows a unity amongst us," Hamlin said Friday. "It really has nothing to do with lug nuts or no lug nuts or anything like that, it’s more so the drivers believing that they have a right to express their opinion especially when asked in an interview ... 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. He gave his opinion and especially when it’s something on safety too."

Less than 24 hours after fining Stewart, NASCAR said it would re-evaluate the rules regarding lug nuts. When the sanctioning body changed its procedures for officiating pit stops before the 2015 season, it stopped mandating that teams fasten all five lug nuts to secure the wheels on the wheel hubs.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!