Montoya/Newman feud simmers on
7 May 2011
The on-track falling-out between Juan Montoya and Ryan Newman was the big talking point coming out of Richmond.
Newman had bumped Montoya into the wall on lap 15 and sent him into hard contact with the wall that caused considerable bodywork damage. Montoya dropped off the lead lap, and blamed Newman for the collision - but Newman was unrepentant: "He crashed himself off of turn 2. I don't know if he thought it was me on purpose, but the message was delivered that it wasn't intentional."
Montoya fumed until the opportunity for revenge presented itself on lap 236 when he was able to tip the #39 - still on the lead lap - spinning around into the wall. "He finished our day off later in the race, on purpose," said Newman afterwards. "I'd say right now it probably isn't a good time for either of us to talk."
"You can't wreck everyone every time you get in an accident," said Denny Hamlin, the winner of the Richmond race, when asked about Montoya's actions. "Accidents happen. Guys make mistakes. Why hold grudges? Makes it tough to get in the Chase, too."
The latest row seems to have opened some very old wounds, with the grudge appearing to extend all the way back to Montoya's Sprint Cup début at Homestead in the 2006 Sprint Cup season finale which saw his Dodge sent crashing into the wall by Newman and ending up in flames.
"I'll tell you the truth, with Newman it's been since my first Cup race," said Montoya. "In my first Cup race the guy that wrecked me was him and after that I've been wrecked a couple times more by him." For Montoya, it seems that the latest bump at Richmond was simply the final straw.
Worried that the newly erupted row threatened to spill over into more on-track confrontations that could cause serious accidents, NASCAR officials summoned both drivers to a peace summit in the Sprint Cup hauler before opening practice at Darlington Raceway. Unfortunately it appears that a week's cooling-off period has not been nearly enough.
"NASCAR did meet with Ryan Newman and Juan Pablo Montoya before the first Sprint Cup Series practice," series spokesman Kerry Tharp said. "The meeting didn't go as well as we had hoped it would, and we're not completely through with this issue."
FOXSports.com were reporting that the "didn't go as well as we had hoped" extended as far as a physical confrontation between the two, and quote a source who claims that Montoya said "Newman hits like a girl" afterwards.
Officially, Montoya wasn't commenting. "I'm not going to tell you [expletive]. Let's leave it at that. What happened in the trailer was between me, Ryan Newman and NASCAR. That's it."
"It was a private meeting, that's why we met in the hauler," concurred Newman in what seemed the closest the two men had been to agreement on anything in the last week.
"The drivers were given their final warning, and are fully aware that we will be watching this very closely," concluded Tharp.
"For me, the track is business as usual," said Montoya. "We've both got to keep running good and get good finishes and move on."
"I don't think once you have an issue, it's over in what we do," Newman said earlier on Friday. "Even when you think you're over it with somebody else, it can re-flare really quick ... I'm still not happy about it, let's put it that way."
Ryan Newman put the distractions behind him to qualify second on the grid for Saturday night's Sprint Cup race at Darlington, while Juan Montoya will start inside the top ten in eighth place having been on pole last week at the ill-fated Richmond event.