By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor
When Tony Stewart announced his retirement before the 2016 season, he said that he didn’t want a parade of retirement gifts. He could go about accomplishing that feat a different way than he has over the last two races.
At the pace he’s currently going, there will not be many drivers that are going to be missing Stewart when he retires at the end of the year. Last week in Darlington, Stewart was summoned to the NASCAR hauler after he wiped out Brian Scott while driving down the straightaway late in the race.
Fast forward to Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond, and Stewart’s aggressive style reared it’s ugly head again.
On lap 363, Ryan Newman — who was trying to fight his way into the Chase — attempted to make a pass on Stewart.
Stewart blocked heading into turn one. On the exit of turn two Newman made slight contact with Stewart, and down the backstretch Stewart blocked Newman again and started a multi-car melee. The crash, which totaled Newman’s No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS, meant the end of Newman’s championship hopes for 2016.
After climbing from the wreckage, a seething Newman teed off on his former boss.
“Going down the back straightaway there, I guess [Stewart] thought he was in a Sprint Car again; did not know how to control his anger,” Newman stated.
Newman was obviously referring to Stewart’s checkered past in the local short track world. But Newman wouldn’t stop taking shots at Stewart.
“But, it’s just disappointing that you’ve got somebody old like that, that should be retired the way he drives,” said Newman. “It’s just ridiculous.”
Newman then encouraged the world to research the long-standing history of Stewart’s aggressive driving.
“So, I don’t think there was any reason other than him just being bipolar and having anger issues,” Newman hypothesized. “Google Tony Stewart; you’ll see all kinds of things he’s done. Look it up. YouTube and everything else. Quite the guy.”
Newman continued by saying, “I’m fine I just got Tony Stewarted. It’s unfortunate we were rebounding from a tough day and then he cut across my nose in Turn 1. I had a good run on him and then I bumped him a little bit in Turn 2, but that is because he took both of us loose. And then he just drove across my nose on the back straightaway I don’t know other than him having anger management issues what the deal was.”
When asked about how much he had on the line in Saturday night’s race, Newman jabbed that he has raced Stewart differently in the past when he had big things on the line.
“Yeah he seemed to forget that. I remember when he has had a lot of stuff on the line and he gets the give and take, but he has never been really one to give back much.”
Stewart went on to finish the race in 33rd, and when he climbed from his car he concurred with Newman’s view of the accident. However, Stewart said that he only took out Newman because he had been fed up with Newman running into him all night long. And as for Newman thinking Stewart should already be retired, Stewart simply said that Newman will get his wish in 10 weeks.
It was an awkward night for fans, as it looked like the deterioration of what was once a great friendship between Stewart and Newman happened over the course of a few hours.
You now have to wonder if Newman will become the thorn in the side of Stewart over the next 10 races as Stewart attempts to nab a fourth Sprint Cup Series championship.