Jeff Gordon was ticked that his driver — who drives a car that Gordon owns half of — lost Sunday’s race at Dover when Kyle Busch drove around him with just over one lap to go.
Meanwhile, Ryan Newman was equally ticked — perhaps more so because he had just fallen two points short of advancing into the second round of the NASCAR Cup playoffs.
So when Gordon made an off-hand comment to Newman, the latter took umbrage to it. Gordon quickly retreated, trying to downplay his comments, likely not wanting to get into an even worse confrontation with Newman, perhaps one that may have turned physical.
On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, Steve Letarte — Gordon’s former crew chief — and Parker Kligerman gave their takes on the Gordon-Newman dust-up of sorts.
“A simple exchange became this big of a topic because of the pressure of the playoffs,” Letarte said. “In Race 20, I think Ryan Newman let’s it pass. But not at the end of the round that he was knocked out of. … The pressure goes up and so does the disappointment if you’re the car eliminated.”
Kligerman, meanwhile, agreed with Newman for being incensed at Gordon’s off-hand remark.
“I definitely think Ryan Newman is in the right,” Kligerman said. “Jeff Gordon said what he had to say and has a right to do that. There’s emotions after these races … and especially for drivers when you’ve gotten knocked out of the playoffs and didn’t have the first three races you wanted, as Ryan Newman had, anything said your way I think you’re going to go after it all day.
“Both of them were completely in the right in what happened there. But I definitely would be in Jeff’s shoes afterward and say, ‘No I didn’t say it the I think you heard it.'”