Newman flips, then fumes over NASCAR’s restrictions

November 2nd, 2009 by

TALLADEGA, Ala. – Ryan Newman admitted he was physically sore after a wild end-over-end backflip down Talladega Superspeedway’s backstretch in the closing laps of Sunday’s Amp Energy 500. But he was just as sore about several other issues, including the propensity of the current chassis design to become airborne, the decision to eliminate bump-drafting in the turns and the overall quality of the racing product.

And he wasn’t alone in his frustration.

Running in the outside lane, two-wide on the backstretch on Lap 184, Newman’s No. 39 Chevrolet was bumped from behind by Marcos Ambrose, shot in front of Kevin Harvick, turned backwards and sailed through the air for several hundred feet, landing upside down on Harvick’s hood. The car then skidded up the banking in Turn 3, hit the outside wall, and proceeded to do one more twist in the infield grass before coming to a stop on its roof, with Newman hanging by his shoulder belts.

“I’m just really disappointed,” Newman said. “We had a race back here in the spring and complained about cars getting airborne and now, ironically, I’m the guy who gets upside-down, have the roll bars down on top of my helmet and stuck upside down. I wish NASCAR would do something.”

Safety crews were able to check on Newman’s condition, and after a few minutes, turned the car over onto its wheels. Then using a cutting instrument, crews cut the roll cage away, freeing Newman, who was able to walk to the ambulance under his own power.

“When I hit the roll cage and landed on my head, I was a little worried,” Newman said. “I was happy to be able to walk out of that, in a roundabout way.”

Newman was out of communication with his crew for much of the time, but he had a good explanation.

“It knocked the antenna off the car,” Newman said. “When they rolled the car back over, the antenna wire connected and I criticized what was going on. It’s no fun, it’s disappointing, there’s no good part of it.

“It’s not even a good race for the fans — that’s the bottom line — that’s who we’re trying to service is the fans. They can stand up and cheer when there’s three [laps] to go with a green-white-checkered [finish], but that’s not racing. You’re supposed to be racing all day long. And I think we’ve lost a little bit of that luster.”

Newman blamed part of the problem on NASCAR’s restrictive policing of restrictor-plate races.

“It’s just a product of this racing and what NASCAR’s put us in, in this box with these types of cars, with the yellow line, with no bump-drafting, no passing,” Newman said. “Drivers used to be able to respect each other and race around each other — Richard Petty, David Pearson, Bobby Allison, all those guys have always done that. I guess they don’t think much of us anymore.”

In an effort to avoid being penalized by NASCAR for aggressive driving — and to perhaps defuse the chances of a multi-car accident — drivers went the overly conservative route. On at least three occasions, the field resorted to running nose-to-tail for multiple laps.

For what it’s worth, NASCAR’s sanctions against bump-drafting in the turns was well-heeded, as no one was penalized for that infraction. However, neither the accident involving Newman, or the one six laps later involving 13 cars directly in front of the main grandstand — in which Chase contender Mark Martin also flipped — was anything more than the result of typical close-quarters superspeedway racing.

The second major accident, triggered when Brad Keselowski got into the back bumper of Kurt Busch, also heavily damaged the cars of Hendrick teammate Jeff Gordon and Juan Montoya. All of those involved, including Martin, were uninjured.

“It was just kind of a terrible race [Sunday] in general,” said David Ragan, who ran near the front of the pack for most of the race, but was caught up in the white-flag wreck. “There was a lot of single-file racing. I know it’s exciting there at the end, but what happens is NASCAR slows these cars down.

“They’re too easy to drive and everyone just gets kind of crazy. It’s a shame to tear up a lot of good race cars like that for kind of being stupid, but that’s restrictor-plate racing. I’m glad we only have to do it three or four times a year.”

Brian Vickers said he still isn’t sure what the crackdown on bump-drafting was hoping to deter.

“If the intent was to prevent a crash, obviously it’s not going to do that,” Vickers said. “We crash as much in the straightaway here as we do in the corner.”

But what’s the alternative? Elliott Sadler honestly doesn’t know.

“I think NASCAR and all the drivers should sit in a private room, lock the doors and have a discussion and try to fix this together,” Sadler said. “That’s what I’d like to see.”

In any case, Newman was less than pleased, and expected that many in attendance felt the same way.

“It was a boring race for the fans,” Newman said. “That’s not something anybody wants to see, at least I hope not. If they do, go home because you don’t belong here.”

One Response

  1. Meleniumshane90

    Not to be morbid, but the wrecks are entertaining – of course when there are no injuries. Since they put those flaps on the roof, the cars have stayed down & haven’t gone airborne like they used to.

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