Ryan Newman’s temper got the best of him Saturday night at Richmond, and for good reason. The Richard Childress Racing driver was attempting to race his way into the 2016 Chase field. He already had a points deficit coming into the Federated Auto Parts 400 after his car failed post race inspection at Darlington the week prior.
Saturday he needed to outpoint Jamie McMurray, or win, in order to make the Chase field. Newman started 15th and struggled early in the race. He was blocked in by eventual race winner Denny Hamlin during a pit stop and lost several spots on the track. Newman was then penalized for speeding during a caution on lap 320.
However, with less than 40 laps remaining, Newman was fighting to get inside the top 10 when disaster stuck. Newman was contesting a spot with his former boss Tony Stewart. The two got together exiting turn 2 and swept up Carl Edwards on the backstretch. Newman and Edwards shot back up the track sweeping up Dylan Lupton, Ragan, and Brian Scott. The car of Lupton ended up on the top of Newman’s car, while Stewart’s car rolled to a stop on fire on the frontstretch ; Stewart was able to exit his car uninjured. Ragan’s car was also on fire but it was quickly extinguished.
NASCAR was forced to stop the race for just over 20 minutes for clean up. After being checked at the infield care center, he had some unkind words for Stewart.
“Oh, I’m fine,” Newman said. “I think it was pretty obvious watching the video. I don’t even have to watch it. The No. 14 (Tony Stewart) cut across my nose into Turn 1 and I got into him after that, but he’d already chopped into me and messed up my line and I clipped him a little bit coming off of (Turn) 2; but he just cut across my nose. Going down the back straightaway there.”
“I guess he thought he was in a Sprint Car again; did not know how to control his anger,” Newman added referencing an August 2014 incident where Stewart ran over Kevin Ward Jr. at a sprint car race in upstate New York. Ward died of his injuries, Stewart was cleared of all charges in the incident. “It’s just disappointing that you’ve got somebody old like that, that should be retired the way he drives. It’s just ridiculous.”
Newman, who is in his final contract year with RCR, didn’t stop there.
“I only hit him in Turn 1 when he cut across my nose,” Newman said. “So, I don’t think there was any reason other than him just being bipolar and having anger issues. Google Tony Stewart; you’ll see all kinds of things he’s done. Look it up. YouTube and everything else. Quite the guy.”
“I’m fine I just got Tony Stewarted.”
Stewart was a little more level headed. He didn’t comment on the incident until later. The three time champion, who did make the Chase field in his final year, seemed a bit more conciliatory towards his former employee.
“ He was right,” Stewart said. “That was the third time he’d driven into me during the night, and how many times does a guy get a free pass until you’ve had enough of it? He’s got to do his part racing for a championship, too, and to race to get in there, and if you’re going to run into guys — I go into 1 and he dive bombs in there. I’m already coming down, so it’s not like I was trying to squeeze him in the infield or something. Ryan and I have been good friends. I don’t do that to him. But he hits me in one, he hits me off of 2, and it’s like the third time by that time. There was once early in the race that nobody saw. Three times, that’s two more times than I normally let somebody run into me.”
As for Newman’s desire for Stewart to retire:
“He’ll get his wish in 10 weeks,” Stewart said. “He’ll get his wish. Maybe next year without us here, he’ll get his spot in the Chase that way. He’s a guy that can get in here, and he’s going to win a championship before it’s all said and done. This night didn’t dictate it for him. There were 26 weeks to get you to the Chase, so tonight wasn’t a make or break for him. The 25 weeks before that set the tone for tonight and it made it stressful for him and he was trying to make it happen, but you can’t just plow through guys and knock guys out of the way to get there and expect to make it.”
Newman was credited with a 28th place finish, Stewart 33rd.