Ryan Newman looked a bit perplexed on Thursday when talking about team owner Tony Stewart's sarcastic post-Talladega interview.
"I guess there's a difference when you hold a straight face versus when you don't hold a straight face," Newman said. "I'm not sure exactly how that all works."
Newman was confused because he was secretly fined $50,000 two years ago when he criticized the racing at Talladega, but Stewart wasn't fined at all for similar comments last weekend.
"I'm not sure if the (NASCAR) bank account is full or what," he said with a laugh. "I don't know how to answer that."
Here's what Newman said after the Talladega race in April 2010 that got him slapped with a secret fine:
"I was thinking when I was out there, these shouldn't be points races. If they want to have these races for the fans, just let us come here and do this, but don't let it affect our championship, because it's not racing. ... We should be here for the Talladega Event Marketing or something like that. Something different besides racing."
Stewart pretended to be upset on Sunday because "we still had over half the cars running at the end, and it shouldn't be that way."
The comments were part of a humorous four-minute rant in which he never broke character and said the opposite of everything he believed. But NASCAR chose not to fine Stewart for his comments in the same way it fined Newman (and the sanctioning body said before the season it will no longer issue secret fines).
"I get criticized for being blah and straight-faced," Newman said. "I didn't know that saved you money."
Newman said he wasn't calling for Stewart to be penalized, but said "I didn't see much difference in what he said versus what I said."
"I know NASCAR has supposedly changed their ways a little bit," he added. "I just hope we can put on a better show for the fans and in the end there's more people in the grandstands."
So what's Newman's fix for Talladega? The driver said NASCAR should quit racing at the 2.66-mile superspeedway where wrecks are common and hold a road-course race at nearby Barber Motorsports Park instead.
"It's kind of like Bristol – we're stuck in the whole dilemma of talking about racing versus crashing," he said. "... Not everybody wants to see crashing, but a good part of them want to see a big crash – The Big One.
"I mean, the commentators are playing (the wrecks) up and they're told what to tell. There's no secret about that."