Two old friends weren’t feeling so friendly toward each other after Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway.
Ryan Newman, who once drove for Tony Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing, had some harsh words for his old boss after a wreck involving the two on Lap 363 effectively ended any chance Newman had of finishing high enough to qualify for the Chase, which begins this week at Chicagoland Speedway.
“He’s got issues, and we all know he’s got issues,” said Newman, who drove at SHR for six seasons before leaving for Richard Childress Racing in 2013. “He proved it again (Saturday). I was clearly inside of him getting into Turn 1, he cut across my nose, I was on the brakes, on the apron and I hit him coming off of Turn 2 but only because I got loose….I was on the apron.
“The next thing I know he is driving across my nose on the back straightaway because he’s Tony Stewart. He thinks he owns everything. It’s unfortunate. But we shouldn’t expect anything less from him.”
It’s just disappointing that you’ve got somebody old like that retired the way he drives.
Stewart, who is retiring after this season and is known for his sometimes fiery temper, didn’t deny that he caused the accident. But he indicated that Newman, who came into the race needing to overcome a 22-point deficit to Jamie McMurray to make Chase, had already bumped him a few times earlier in the race.
“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?” Stewart said. “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 (Turn) 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.”
Stewart is in the Chase; Newman finished tied for 17th in the points standings, one place out of the postseason.
Newman was having none of that. He appeared to mention a dirt track incident in 2014, when a car driven by Stewart hit and killed fellow driver Kevin Ward Jr. Although Stewart was not indicted on criminal charges by a grand jury, a wrongful death lawsuit by Ward’s family is still pending.
“I guess he thought he was in a sprint car again and didn’t know how to control his anger. It’s disappointing that you’ve got somebody old like that retired the way he drives. It’s just ridiculous.
“I only hit him in Turn 1 when he cut across my nose, so I don’t think there was any reason other than him being bipolar and having anger issues. Google Tony Stewart, you’ll see all kinds of things he’s done. Look it up on YouTube. Quite the guy.”
Stewart, who is in the Chase and might need to look over his shoulder for Newman over the final 10 races, said he’s happy to accommodate Newman on his retirement comment.
“He’ll get his wish in 10 weeks,” said Stewart, who also wrecked rookie Brian Scott last week at Darlington. “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.”