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STEWART ANGRY: Tony Stewart took a verbal swipe at NASCAR on Saturday, insisting friend and competitor Dale Earnhardt Jr. should not have lost points for cursing during a live TV interview last weekend.

Instead of leading by 13 points, Earnhardt enters Sunday's Banquet 400 at Kansas Speedway trailing Kurt Busch by 12 points after the third of 10 races in NASCAR's new playoff-style championship format. Junior was fined $10,000 and docked 25 points for using inappropriate language during the interview in Victory Lane at Talladega.

Stewart, long NASCAR's bad boy, is no stranger to penalties. Most recently, he was fined $50,000, had 25 points taken away and was placed on probation for allegedly hitting Brian Vickers during a postrace confrontation in June at Sonoma.

But the severity of Earnhardt's penalty irritated the 2002 series champion.

"I think we're starting to nitpick and scrutinize way too much in this series," Stewart said.


WILLIAMS' PATERNITY SUIT: Ricky Williams has acknowledged having an intimate relationship with a woman who filed a paternity suit against him, according to court papers. The retired Miami Dolphins running back faces a court hearing in the suit Dec. 15.

Cherie Nicole Clark filed papers in August in Broward (Fla.) Circuit Court asking Williams to pay child support for her 14-month-old son. Clark, 23, claims that Williams is the boy's father. Williams initially denied he was the father, then, in papers filed Sept. 22, said he and Clark had "an intimate relationship during the time that the minor child in these proceedings was conceived."