Bristol, Tenn., — It was quite the night for the Stewart-Haas Racing trio. Ryan Newman ran into an old friend, Tony Stewart pitched a perfect helmet, and Danica Patrick waved a finger during the IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Ryan Newman is one of multiple drivers in a heated battle for one of the final Chase for the Sprint Cup slots. The Chase field will be set in three weeks at Richmond International Raceway, but a bad night was not what Newman and the No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing team needed. The team tried to put the car back on the track, but crew chief Tony Gibson said it wasn’t possible.
“It (the crash) drove the frame into the motor and it’s just too far gone,” said Gibson. “We couldn’t fix it; not safe enough to go back out.”
The lap 191 crash started when Newman had a tire issue with the left rear and started to spin. Juan Pablo Montoya made contact with Newman helping the No. 39 around and into the outside wall before sliding down the track collecting Jeff Burton.
‘I saw Ryan (Newman) got in trouble and he started spinning,” said Burton, who was able to return to the race. “He looked like he was going to stay against the wall, and so I committed to the bottom and then he started in and I couldn’t get turned back to the right.”
Gibson said Newman made contact with someone the lap prior that cut the left–rear tire, and did not think the incident was caused by Montoya.
“I think we were going to spinout no matter what with that left-rear tire,” added Gibson. “By the time we saw it he had already spun.”
Synchronized spinning at the front of the field took out Tony Stewart, who crashed on lap 333 racing Matt Kenseth for the lead. The two cars ran out of real estate and spun down the track into the inside wall. Kenseth drove away, but Stewart was taken to the infield on the hook.
Stewart showed his displeasure by beaming the front of the No. 17 of Kenseth with a helmet as Kenseth came off pit road heading back to the track.
“It probably wasn’t the ideal pass,” said Stewart, who returned to the track for a few laps before calling it a night. “Learned a lesson there, next time I won’t be patient behind him.”
“I’m going to run over him every chance I get for the rest of the year,” Stewart added.
Kenseth said both drivers respect each other, but this year things have been tense.
“He (Stewart) ran me off the track at Sears Point and said he was sorry,” said Kenseth. “It cost me seven spots in the finishing order and at Indy he was mad because he said I blocked him and I asked for five minutes of his time to clear the air and he wouldn’t give it to me and pretty much just got cussed out and knocked my whole side off and put us in position to get wrecked, so I just said, ‘OK, that’s fine.”
“I’m just gonna race you the same way you race me,’ and he showed me how he was gonna race me down there, so I just did the same thing on the other end,” Kenseth added.
The final shot at a decent finish was up to Danica Patrick, who was making her Sprint Cup debut in Thunder Valley. Patrick was happy with the performance considering starting dead last. Patrick had worked up to the top-20 and was on the lead lap before Regan Smith made contact with the right rear and Patrick was spun to the inside and hard into the inside wall.
Patrick was not able to see a replay of the incident, but said “we are all racing hard, this is Bristol.”
“Bristol is a place where you find out who is playing fair and who is not,” added Patrick.