With roughly 40 laps left in the Aug. 17 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway, Matt DiBenedetto held a 1.6-second lead over second-place Denny Hamlin when DiBenedetto caught Ryan Newman’s No. 6 Ford, the last car on the lead lap.
DiBenedetto struggled to overtake Newman, generally regarded as one of the toughest drivers in the series to pass. Contact between the two vehicles tightened the handling of DiBenedetto’s No. 95 Toyota, whose lead had shrunk to .8 seconds by the time he cleared Newman’s Mustang.
With 11 laps left, Hamlin caught and passed DiBenedetto for the win, spoiling a Cinderella story for the driver who had been told by Leavine Family Racing earlier in the week that his option wouldn’t be picked up for 2020.
As might be expected, Newman received his share of criticism on social media, even though he was locked in close battle for a Playoff spot and was fighting to stay on the lead lap.
“I think Kyle Busch would tell you the best, there’s always going to be haters,” Newman said on Friday at Darlington Raceway. “I did what I needed to do to be competitive. I haven’t seen any replays. I don’t know exactly how he hit me twice in two separate straightaways in the right rear going down the straightaway.
“If I pinched him, or if he didn’t give himself enough room or what, but in the end there was nothing intentional by me. Fans can choose whatever they want—I mean there are thousands of fans that have come to Bristol to see crashes for years, so I’m sorry I let them down.”
Asked whether he felt a need to talk to DiBenedetto about the incident, Newman demurred.
“No, there’s no reason to,” he said.