INDIANAPOLIS – Ryan Newman was mad at Daniel Suarez after an incident between the two last Sunday in the Bojangles’ Southern 500 that resulted in Newman spinning.
The two drivers are tied for the final position in NASCAR’s 16-driver playoffs with Sunday’s Big Machine Vodka 400 the last race before the playoff cutoff, which has only intensified the interest in last week’s incident.
“It was just racing,” Suarez said. “By the way, there was not contact. But it was just a racing deal. It happened to be him, but it could have happened with anyone.
“Newman, I have a lot of respect for him. He is a very aggressive driver. One of the most aggressive. People know that. Sometimes we race hard and sometimes you know what the limits are and sometimes we push a little bit hard. It was just a racing deal. I didn’t mean to spin him out. I didn’t mean to wreck him.
“But I wanted to pass him. Unfortunately, he spun out but there was not contact, and it was just racing like we do every week. That is part of it.”
There are two sides to what happened at Darlington Raceway last Sunday night, with Newman offering a slightly different opinion regarding what happened.
“Are you saying I made contact with him or he made contact with me?” Newman asked. “That is just racing. That is what I said afterwards. Everything kind of cycles in our sport and what comes around goes around. It is what it is. I don’t think he meant to turn me around, but he did turn me around. It is just racing. I get it. Whether he plowed through me like Matt Kenseth did to Joey Logano or just took the air of me or whatever. It is racing.
“I don’t have any intentions going into this race other than to do the best that I can for our team.”
The top 14 drivers are locked into the playoffs based on wins and points. That leaves just two available positions in the playoffs and Newman and Suarez are battling for one of them.
Clint Bowyer has position No. 15 with 625 points. Suarez is tied with Newman for the final position in the playoffs with 617 points each, but Suarez currently gets the position based on a tiebreaker. Jimmie Johnson has 599 points and is on the outside looking in.
What is Newman’s mindset heading into the race with the playoffs on the line?
“Just perform and enjoy it,” said the driver from South Bend, Ind. “There are a lot of teams that would like to be in our situation. There are a lot of teams better than our situation but there are a lot that would love to be fighting for a playoff berth. We will do what we can to be the best we can with the Acorns Ford and enjoy the race. It is home for me. Lots of friends and family and I get a chance to run the Silver Crown car tonight at IRP. There is a lot going on. That is just part of it. I definitely enjoy it.”
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