DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Ryan Newman said Friday that he's tried to contact NASCAR officials about what he calls an "airborne disease" with cars leaving the ground at restrictor-plate tracks, but to no avail.
In the meantime, the fact that Newman's pointed remarks after crashing out of last Sunday's Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway went unpenalized was fodder for discussion Friday at Darlington Raceway, where rivals debated what the dividing line is between criticism being within reasonable limits or out of bounds.
Newman remained irritated after a multicar crash in last weekend's rain-delayed race that swept Kurt Busch's car on top of his in the melee. By his count, "somebody either lands on me or I land on somebody and it's happened three times in the last eight or nine races."
That toll led Newman to lash out on live television, saying -- in part -- that "they can build safer race cars, they can build safer walls, but they can't get their heads out of their asses far enough to keep them on the race track, and that's pretty disappointing."
NASCAR President Mike Helton said Friday at Darlington that Newman's remarks fell under the heading of strong criticism, but within reason.
"We've told our drivers all along that you can challenge us, you can challenge NASCAR and our calls, or us, to a certain extent," Helton said. "Now, 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 that he was challenging us, is what he was doing."
Said Newman: "It's frustrating and I think I voiced my frustration very fairly. I could've said a lot more and paid a penalty. I chose not to. I think I took a pretty high road."
Newman, who holds an engineering degree from Purdue University, continued to challenge the sanctioning body Friday after his 21st-fastest qualifying lap, saying he had not had any communication with NASCAR officials since the Talladega crash.
"I'd have to say if they had a driver who was an engineer and understood the race cars more than anybody else or more than the average, they'd consider my opinion and my education, but I haven't seen that yet," Newman said. "I said what I said for a reason. It was obvious I chose my words, but 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 get tired of it."
Denny Hamlin received a $25,000 fine from NASCAR after making critical remarks about the new Generation-6 Sprint Cup car after its second race, at Phoenix International Raceway. Friday at Darlington, Hamlin said in light of the discussion he and NASCAR Chairman Brian France had after the penalty about pushing the envelope, he wasn't surprised that Newman went unpenalized.
"I think that they, in my opinion, they realized they kind of took it a little too far in my penalty, so you can't just have a makeup call here in the game," Hamlin said. "I think that they've loosed up the reins and realized that drivers are in the heat of the moment and Ryan just had a car flip right on top of him, so he's mad for a lot of reasons, so I don't think a penalty was warranted for Ryan. I think he got one years ago for probably something close to that, but they've said they've loosened up the reins and obviously they have."
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