Longtime friends Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart met with NASCAR officials Friday at Chicagoland Speedway to clear the air following multiple incidents between the two during a race last weekend, including Stewart intentionally crashing Newman, who then verbally lambasted Stewart.
In a 35-minute meeting led by Sprint Cup Series director Richard Buck and including other high-ranking NASCAR executives, Newman and Stewart reviewed what transpired during the regular season finale at Richmond International Raceway. At the conclusion of the meeting, both drivers emerged from NASCAR's hauler to address the media together.
Stewart is the co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, a team Newman drove for from 2009-13.
"We don't have to apologize to each other," Newman told reporters.
Said Stewart: "You've got to remember, we've been teammates. We've known each other since long before either one of us ever got an opportunity to come to NASCAR."
Newman and Stewart had three on-track incidents at Richmond and the last one involved Stewart swerving across Newman's frontend, triggering a multi-car crash that knocked both drivers out of the race. Afterward, Newman said Stewart was "bipolar," had "anger issues" and referenced a 2014 incident where Stewart struck and killed a driver who was walking on the track during a sprint car race in upstate New York. A grand jury later determined there was insufficient evidence to criminally charge Stewart.
On Friday, Newman didn't apologize for his remarks. And Stewart, as he did at Richmond, excused Newman's comments as something said in the heat of the moment immediately following a race where Newman failed to qualify for NASCAR's playoffs.
"I don't have any regrets about what I said," Newman said. "I am frustrated by the situations and the actions that came about in respect to all of it.
"They're just words, right? More often than not, we're men of our actions. It's just all about going out there and doing our job. We all know it can be frustrating at times, whether it's intentional or not."
NASCAR called a meeting between the former teammates to assure there would be no carryover in the Chase, which begins Sunday at Chicagoland. Stewart is one of 16 drivers competing for the championship.
"Last week didn't play out in either of us's favor," Newman said. "Obviously we didn't want that to happen ever again. But what happened, happened."
Said Stewart: "We've had a week to think about it, we've had a week to get over it, we've been in the trailer and talked about it. As far as we're concerned, it's over."