Driver Ryan Newman ripped NASCAR officials in a televised tirade at the Sprint Cup Series race in Talladega, Ala.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Ryan Newman had to open his checkbook the last time he spoke out at Talladega.
Fed up about the style of racing, he said in 2010 fans shouldn’t bother going to the track. He was punished with a secret fine that didn’t come to light for months, and the true amount has not been revealed.
But it is a precedent that could cost him after his strong rebuke of NASCAR on live television Sunday.
Newman, no stranger to harrowing accidents at restrictor-plate tracks, had just witnessed Kurt Busch’s car barrel-roll on top of his at the end of a long and dreary day in the Aaron’s 499 Sprint Cup Series race. The closing laps of a Talladega race are frantic by nature, and on Sunday it was wet and cold and getting darker by the second when the 12-car accident erupted on the backstretch.
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Newman was as frustrated as anybody would be after a 3,400-pound car had just landed on top of their hood.
But he was also fed up.
So he stepped up to the live television camera and let it all out.
“They can build safer race cars, they can build safer walls. But they can’t get their heads out of their (expletive) far enough to keep them on the racetrack, and that’s pretty disappointing,” Newman said. “I wanted to make sure I get that point across. Y’all can figure out who ‘they’ is.”
Newman proceeded to criticize NASCAR for restarting the race with 10 laps remaining despite the looming darkness. Rain had forced a three-hour, 36-minute delay midway through the race and Talladega doesn’t have lights.
“That’s no way to end a race. That’s just poor judgment in restarting the race, poor judgment,” Newman said. “I mean, you got what you wanted, but poor judgment and running in the dark and running in the rain.
“That’s it, thank you.”
Logic would say those comments are going to cost Newman some money this week.
But logic seemingly doesn’t apply anymore and NASCAR’s decisions appear to be changing daily.
Remember, it was two months ago that Denny Hamlin was slapped with a $25,000 fine for the fairly mild assessment that NASCAR’s new car in Arizona “did not race as good as our generation-five cars. This is more like what the generation five was at the beginning.”
Roughly six weeks later, defending champion Brad Keselowski escaped punishment for essentially accusing NASCAR of unfairly targeting his team after inspectors confiscated parts from both Penske Racing cars before a race in Texas.
“I feel like we’ve been targeted over the last seven days more than I’ve ever seen a team targeted,” he said.
NASCAR also let Keselowski slide in February when he made wide-ranging and critical comments about the direction of the sport in a USA Today profile.
NASCAR chairman Brian France has attempted to put boundaries on what drivers can and can’t say. They can give opinions on judgment calls, but France said, “There is one line that we are not going to tolerate and that’s going to be criticizing the quality of the racing product in any way, form or fashion.”
Under those guidelines, Kasey Kahne of Enumclaw is safe.
Kahne is the driver who reminded everyone Saturday that NASCAR is terribly inconsistent in calling the last lap of races. An accident behind the leaders on the last lap of the Nationwide Series race at Talladega brought out the yellow flag that gave Regan Smith the win, but Kahne would have gone to victory lane had NASCAR let the drivers race to the finish.
“NASCAR always switches it up; you never know what’s going to happen,” Kahne said.
Criticism of a call is allowed, Kasey.
Newman’s case is trickier. And he waits to see which way the wind will blow.