September 18th, 2016 by Staff

RICHMOND, Va. — A multicar accident triggered by hard racing between former teammates Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman brought out a 20-minute red flag with 37 laps remaining in Saturday night’s regular season finale at Richmond International Raceway.

The incident ruined what chance Newman had of racing himself into a Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup position after he entered the race 22 points behind Jamie McMurray for the final spot. That put Newman in a difficult position to advance, and a win appeared to be his best shot.

Newman would return to the race, but he finished 28th. Prior to his return, the Richard Childress Racing driver shared his frustration with the media after a mandatory visit to the infield car center.

“Didn’t want to control his anger,” Newman said of his former team owner Stewart, who is retiring at the end of the season. “(My team) will keep fighting like we always do. It’s unfortunate. Not the end we wanted.

“Just disappointing that you have somebody old like that that should be retired the way he drives. It’s just ridiculous.”

Newman, who drove for the Stewart-Haas Racing team for five years from 2009-2012, added, “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.”

Stewart’s No. 14 Chevrolet was unable to continue after the incident and the three-time champ stayed in his team hauler until the race was over. A winner at Sonoma Raceway earlier this year, he already had qualified for the Chase and was required to attend a post-race media session and photo shoot with the 16 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers.

Stewart took questions from reporters and defended his actions.

“It was a stressful night for (Newman), he was trying to make the Chase,” said Stewart, who finished 33rd. “But if you run into me three times you’re not going to get a free pass. It was the third time he had driven into me during the night. How many times does a guy get a free pass until you’ve had enough of it? He’s got to do his part racing for a championship and trying to get in there and if you’re going to run in there.

“I went into (Turn) 1 and he dive-bombs there and I’m already coming down. It’s not like I was trying to squeeze him into the infield or something. Ryan and I have been good friends I wouldn’t do that to him.

“But three times is two more times than I normally let someone run into me.”

When told that Newman suggested Stewart hurry his impending retirement plans, Stewart smiled slightly.

“He’ll get his wish in 10 weeks,” Stewart said. “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. There were 26 weeks to get you to the Chase, so tonight wasn’t a make-or-break for him. The 25 weeks before that set the tone for tonight and it made it stressful for him and he was trying to make it happen, but you can’t just plow through guys and knock guys out of the way to get there and expect to make it.”

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