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Friday, May 10, 2013
Ryan Newman irked by NASCAR

By David Newton
ESPN.com

DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Ryan Newman isn't very happy with NASCAR's lack of response to issues he has with restrictor-plate racing.

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver blasted the governing body just short of being fined after Sunday's race at Talladega Superspeedway, trying to send a message that changes are needed to make restrictor-plate racing safer.

He tried to call at least one NASCAR official this week to share his thoughts, but got no response.

Newman I'd have to say if they had a driver who was an engineer that understood the race cars more than anybody else, or more than the average [driver], you'd think they would consider my opinion and my education. But I haven't seen that yet.

-- Ryan Newman

"I'd have to say, if they had a driver who was an engineer that understood the race cars more than anybody else, or more than the average [driver], you'd think they would consider my opinion and my education," said Newman, who attended Purdue University. "But I haven't seen that yet."

Asked who he called from NASCAR, Newman said, "Let's just say I communicated with my phone and never got any response."

NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said the governing body had no response other than to say, "We communicate with our drivers all the time."

Newman was unhappy on Sunday because for the third time since 2009, his car went airborne and either landed on another or had another land on his. He has been involved in so many such accidents that NASCAR added what is referred to as the "Newman bar" to the window for extra protection.

On Sunday, Kurt Busch's car barrel-rolled on top of Newman's No. 39 with fewer than six laps remaining.

"I am doing this interview to let everybody know I'm all right," Newman told reporters after being released at the infield medical center. "They can build safer race cars, they can build safer walls. But they can't get their heads out of their a---- far enough to keep them on the race track, and that's pretty disappointing.

"I wanted to make sure I get that point across. Y'all can figure out who 'they' is. That's no way to end a race. Our car was much better than that. That's just poor judgment in restarting the race, poor judgment. ... I mean, you got what you wanted, but poor judgment and running in the dark and running in the rain. That's it, thank you."

Newman said he chose his words carefully to stay within NASCAR's self-proclaimed line of being allowed to criticize the officiating without being fined.

"It was obvious I chose my words," Newman said. "It doesn't at all compare to what the actual point of my conversation was. You can only go to the principal so many times before you kind of get tired.

"My issue has and always has been, because I seem to be the reciprocate of whatever airborne disease that we have in NASCAR, is that either somebody lands on me or I land on somebody. We've proven it's not safe for the fans. ... It's frustrating, and I think I voiced my frustration very fairly. I could have said a lot more and took a penalty, but I chose not to. I think I took a pretty high road."

NASCAR president Mike Helton said earlier in the day that he had not spoken to Newman but acknowledged Newman's comments were discussed, as weekend events typically are.

He said there was no fine because Newman stayed on the right side of the line.

"We've told our drivers all along, 'You can challenge us, you can challenge NASCAR and our calls or us to a certain extent,'" Helton said. "Whether or not this has been pushed to the edge or not, that's been debated.

"But what you cannot do is criticize the product. Our determination in Ryan's case is he was challenging us."

It just didn't open the lines of communication as Newman hoped.

"It doesn't matter what the issue was," Newman said. "I showed displeasure. From a communication standpoint, as they have tried to do with us and I have tried to with them, there should be a happy medium of taking on each other's sides.

"I have tried [to talk to them]. I haven't gotten anywhere."