CHICAGO – Tony Stewart said he expects to meet with fellow driver Ryan Newman and NASCAR officials Friday at Chicagoland Speedway in an attempt to smooth over some hard feelings from last week’s race at Richmond (Virginia) International Raceway.
Newman had tough words for Stewart after the two wrecked in a race that Newman needed to perform well in if he was to qualify for the Chase, which begins Sunday at Chicagoland. But Newman’s postseason hopes were dashed when Stewart took out Newman in an apparent retaliatory move on the backstretch with 37 laps remaining.
“He’s got issues, and we all know he’s got issues,” Newman said after the race, in which he finished 28th and out of the postseason. “I don’t think there was any reason other than him just being bipolar and having anger issues.”
For his part, Stewart said he was simply hitting back at Newman, whom, Stewart said, had already made contact with him three times.
The ill will between the two prompted Friday’s scheduled meeting.
“I haven’t heard anything from him,” Stewart said Thursday at Chase media day in the southside of Chicago. “It would be easy to take it personal. That was a deciding factor in his season on whether he would make the Chase or not.”
Stewart said NASCAR hopes to avoid the situation it found itself in during last season’s Chase, when bad blood between Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano resulted in Kenseth wrecking Logano at Martinsville, effectively ending his Chase hopes (Logano and Kenseth, incidentally, were seen joking with each other in Chicago on Thursday).
“A lot of it is making sure they don’t have a scenario like last year with Joey and Matt,” said Stewart, who is in the Chase. “I think it gets blown a little bit out of proportion But they want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
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