RICHMOND, Va. -- Moments after Ryan Newman’s fleeting hopes for clinching one of the final berths in the Chase for the Sprint Cup went up in smoke, he turned his anger on his former boss and teammate, Tony Stewart.
Newman and Stewart were among a handful of drivers that collided in a multicar wreck with 37 laps remaining in the final regular-season race of the season Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway.
But Newman’s sole focus was on Stewart, whom the Richard Childress Racing driver lambasted in a televised interview on NBC Sports Network after being released from the infield care center.
“The 14 car cut across my line and couldn't control it,” Newman said of Stewart. “He just cut across my nose.”
Then Newman, who drove for Stewart-Haas Racing from 2009-13 before he was let go to make room for Kevin Harvick, really let loose in a stunning rant.
"I guess he thought he was in a sprint car again and didn’t know how to control his anger. ... Just disappointing that you've got somebody old like that that retired (should be 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."
Newman, who finished 28th, appeared to be referencing an August 2014 incident in which Stewart struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr. in a sprint car race in New York. Ward had excited his vehicle and was walking down the track under caution when he was hit.
A grand jury did not indict Stewart on criminal charges. Ward was found to have smoked marijuana within five hours of the race, according to toxicology reports. A wrongful death civil suit filed by the Ward family still is pending.
Stewart, who will have a chance to win his fourth Sprint Cup championship after clinching a spot in the Chase in his final season in NASCAR's premier series, appeared calm when he met with reporters on pit road after finishing 33rd.
“It’s a stressful night for him; he’s trying to make the Chase,” Stewart said when asked about Newman’s outburst. “It’s a stressful moment, so he’s going to say whatever he’s going to say. … He probably doesn’t want to be friends right now. It’s up to him.”
Newman and Stewart made contact just two laps after Newman re-entered the top 10 after going a lap down earlier in the race. David Ragan, Carl Edwards, Brian Scott and AJ Allmendinger also were involved, along with Dylan Lupton, whose No. 83 Toyota ended up on top of the roof of Newman's No. 31 Chevrolet. Stewart and Ragan’s cars both briefly caught fire.
Not surprisingly, Stewart and Newman had a different take on the incident.
“Early in the race (Newman) ran into me and cut down across my nose,” Stewart said. “It was alright for him to do that, and I let him go and gave him room. And I do it at the end of the race and he hits me once and hits me a second time. It’s like how many times is he supposed to hit you before you decide you’ve had enough of it for the day?”
Newman entered the race 22 points outside the final position on points after a 15-point penalty levied Wednesday for a failed post-race laser inspection at Darlington Raceway. Stewart already had secured a playoff spot and will start the 10-race Chase as the No. 11 seed.
As for Newman's comments on Stewart's retirement, Stewart said:
"He'll get his wish in 10 weeks."
Ellen J. Horrow, USA Today