Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart meet with NASCAR to discuss Richmond incident

Photo by Dustin Long
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CHICAGO — Ryan Newman says he has no regrets about the disparaging personal comments he made about Tony Stewart after last week’s incident at Richmond, saying “it’s just words.’’

Newman and Stewart met for 35 minutes with Richard Buck, managing director of the Sprint Cup Series, and other NASCAR executives Friday at Chicagoland Speedway.

They exited the NASCAR hauler together, joking and laughing as they talked to the media.

Asked if an apology was given in the NASCAR hauler, Newman said: “We don’t have to apologize to each other.’’

Stewart responded: “You have to remember we’ve been teammates, we’ve known each other since long before either one of us had the opportunities to come to NASCAR.’’

Newman then turned to Stewart and said: “I’ll text you an apology later.’’

Both chuckled.

Stewart’s frustration grew as they were asked more questions about their actions and relationship.

“You guys are drawing for straws,’’ Stewart told the media. “Good grief. This is the frustrating part for both of us. We just get poked and prodded and both of us have already moved on and still get poked and prodded about it.’’

Newman saw his Chase hopes end last weekend at Richmond when contact with Stewart wrecked Newman. Stewart said he had been hit three times by Newman before reacting.

Newman didn’t take too kindly to the contact from Stewart, saying: “I guess he thought he was in a sprint car again. Didn’t want to control his anger. (The team) will keep fighting like we always do. It’s unfortunate. Not the end we wanted.’’

Then Newman said about Stewart: “I don’t think there was any reason other than him just being bipolar and having anger issues. Google ‘Tony Stewart,’ you’ll see all kinds of things he’s done. Look it up on YouTube (and) everything else.”

Stewart agreed to anger management counseling in 2002 after NASCAR and his sponsor at the time, Home Depot, fined him a combined $60,000 for hitting a photographer at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Stewart faces a wrongful death lawsuit from the family of Kevin Ward Jr., who was killed after he walked down the track and was struck by Stewart’s sprint car in a 2014 sprint car race. The family claimed in its lawsuit that Stewart “intentionally tried to intimidate Kevin by accelerating and sliding the car toward him, causing the tragedy.’’ A grand jury did not charge Stewart, who has stated that “I know in my heart that it was 100 percent an accident.’’

Asked Friday if he had regrets about what he said about Stewart at Richmond, Newman said: “I don’t have any regrets about what I said. I am frustrated by the situations and the actions that came about in respect to all of it and I think, most importantly, how it affected people that are associated with both of us. That is probably the roughest part.

“Nobody understands what we do in our business except us. You guys are there as soon as we walk out of the infield care center. No other sport is like that. It’s challenging. It doesn’t mean it makes us perfect or any better than any other athlete, but it’s different and challenging for other reasons.’’

Newman was then asked if he had been given a few more minutes before he spoke to the media at Richmond that he wouldn’t have said what he did about Stewart.

“I didn’t say that,’’ Newman said.

Stewart said it was important for them to put this issue behind them.

“We’re two guys who have been friends for a long time,’’ Stewart said. “It’s important for us to be in there and talk about it.’’