A frustrated Ryan Newman said Tony Stewart had anger management issues following an incident between the two in Saturday night's Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway.
Newman and Stewart were racing for the 10th position with 37 laps remaining when they began bumping into one another entering Turn 1. The contact continued down the backstretch with Newman attempting to dive underneath Stewart, who then cut across the front end of Newman's car causing a crash that collected both of the instigators along with four other drivers.
In the aftermath, Dylan Lupton's car ended up atop Newman's and pinned against the outside retaining wall, necessitating a 20 minute delay to clean up the track. All involved were uninjured.
The wreck eliminated Newman from qualifying for NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup. Stewart, who is retiring at the end of the season, already secured a playoff berth.
"Going down the back straightaway there, I guess he thought he was in a sprint car again — did not know how to control his anger," Newman said. "It's just disappointing that you've got somebody old like that, that should be retired the way he drives. It's just ridiculous."
Newman's criticism of Stewart continued with Newman referencing previous confrontations involving Stewart, who he drove for from 2009 to 2013.
"I don't think there was any reason other than him just being bipolar and having anger issues," Newman said. "Google ‘Tony Stewart,' you'll see all kinds of things he's done. Look it up. YouTube and everything else. Quite the guy."
Newman's comments seemingly referenced an incident of Stewart's where he struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr. during a 2014 sprint car race in Upstate New York. Ward had just been involved in an accident with Stewart and was walking down the track when Stewart's car clipped him with the right-rear wheel.
Stewart was not criminally charged by a grand jury, and a toxicology report determined Ward had smoked marijuana within five hours of the race. The Ward family filed a wrongful death civil suit last year that is still pending.
"He has got issues," Newman said. "We all know he's got issues. He proved it again tonight."
Stewart dismissed Newman's remarks, citing the pressure Newman was under to make the Chase. The Richard Childress Racing driver had a trying night, struggling to find speed in his No. 31 car and was heard bickering frequently with crew chief Luke Lambert on the radio. Newman entered Richmond trailing Jamie McMurray by 22 points, placing him in a virtual must-win situation.
"There were 26 weeks to get you to the Chase, so tonight wasn't a make or break for him," Stewart said. "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."
Stewart said Newman hit him three times throughout the night, including when Newman drove across his nose earlier in the race. The co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing explained that had it not been Newman, someone he considers a good friend, he wouldn't have been so patient.
"How many times does a guy get a free pass until you've had enough of it?" Stewart said. "... I go into [Turn] 1 and he dive bombs in there. I'm already coming down, so it's not like I was trying to squeeze him in the infield or something.
"Ryan and I have been good friends, I don't do that to him. But he hits me in [Turn] 1, he hits me off of [Turn] 2, and it's like the third time by that time. There was once early in the race that nobody saw. Three times, that's two more times than I normally let somebody run into me."