Contact or no contact, Suarez and Newman are tied for Playoff spot

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - SEPTEMBER 07: Daniel Suarez, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Ford, stands in the garage during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Big Machine Vodka 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on September 07, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

In racing, there are two sides to every story—and usually another one somewhere in the middle.

Daniel Suarez says he didn’t hit Ryan Newman’s Ford in last week’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. Newman says there was contact and that it came from Suarez’s Ford.

Whatever the case, Newman went for a spin off Turn 2 on Lap 140, with Suarez’s car in close proximity. Suarez finished 11th and Newman 23rd, and that left the two drivers tied for the 16th and final spot in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with Sunday’s Big Machine Vodka 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway left to decide the issue (2 p.m. ET on NBC, IMS and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

“It was just racing—by the way, there was not contact,” Suarez insisted on Saturday at the Brickyard. “But, yeah, it was just a racing deal. It happened to be him, but it could have happened with anyone. Newman, I have a lot of respect for him. He is a very aggressive driver. One of the most aggressive.

“People know that. Sometimes we race hard, and sometimes you know what the limits are and sometimes we push a little bit hard. It was just a racing deal. I didn’t mean to spin him out. I didn’t mean to wreck him. But I wanted to pass him. Unfortunately, he spun out, but there was not contact, and it was just racing like we do every week. That is part of it.”

Though Newman reiterated a point he made after the race—that what goes around, comes around—he can’t afford to tangle with a rival driver on Sunday, not with Jimmie Johnson lurking 18 points behind, hoping to steal the final Playoff berth.

But that doesn’t mean Newman didn’t feel contact from Suarez’s car, and it doesn’t mean he’ll forget.

“That’s just racing,” he said. “That’s what I said afterwards. Everything kind of cycles in our sport and what comes around goes around. It is what it is. I don’t think he meant to turn me around, but he did turn me around.

“It’s just racing. I get it. Whether he plowed through me like Kenseth did to Logano (at Martinsville in 2015) or just took the air of me or whatever. It’s racing. I don’t have any intentions going into this race, other than to do the best that I can for our team.”

Greg Engle