Tony Stewart doesn't blame Ryan Newman for harsh words at Richmond

CHICAGO — Tony Stewart has not heard from Ryan Newman since Newman made personal comments toward Stewart at Richmond International Raceway but said he holds no ill will toward his longtime friend and former teammate.

Stewart made contact with Newman late in the Richmond race, which resulted in a crash that ended Newman’s Chase for the Sprint Cup hopes. Newman then ripped Stewart on television, calling him “bipolar” and saying he had “anger issues” in addition to referencing the sprint car incident in which Stewart struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr.

“It would be easy to take it personally, but that was the deciding factor in his season of whether he was going to make the Chase or not,” Stewart said Thursday during NASCAR’s Chase Media Day. “I respect him a lot. It’s a high-pressure moment. I’ve been in those too and said things.

“Whether he meant to say it or not, whether he still believes it or not, that’s up to him. That moment is a hard moment for any of us. It’s tough in that scenario, so I can’t blame him.”

NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell said this week officials would bring Stewart and Newman together at Chicagoland Speedway to clear the air, likely before practice on Friday. Stewart said he thinks NASCAR is “trying to make sure they don’t have a scenario like they did last year with Joey (Logano) and Matt (Kenseth),” which resulted in an intentional wreck during the Chase.

But Stewart said it doesn’t matter if NASCAR has a closer eye on him than before, because he’s going to race differently now that the playoffs are beginning. No more getting involved in potential feuds that could damage his Chase hopes, he said.

“It’s time for the Chase now,” he said. “It’s a whole different mindset and approach each week. We’ve got to go out and worry about what we’ve got to do to win the championship.”

So does Stewart think his clash with Newman will continue to be a hot topic?

“If you think that’s going to be a story line for the next 10 weeks, you’re going to miss a lot, because you’re going to be wasting your time on something that’s not even relevant,” he said.

Follow Gluck on Twitter @jeff_gluck

Copyright 2016 WCNC


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