Newman; Wallace: Former ‘Mates Still Can’t See Eye to Eye
It’s no huge secret that Ryan Newman and Rusty Wallace were never exactly the closest of friends during the few short years that they teamed together at Penske Racing earlier this decade, and their relationship was again tested this past weekend at Indianapolis, and it was Rusty that fired the opening shots.
Baffled at the notion that anyone would ever dare leave a man that he has such deep respect for, Roger Penske and his organization, Rusty allegated that it was Penske Racing’s decision to let Newman go and that they’d fired him.
“He didn’t leave,” Wallace stated. “I’ve read many, many stories that said that. Roger Penske called Ryan Newman up to his office and said, ‘I don’t need your services next year.’ Ryan Newman didn’t come to him and say ‘I’m leaving.’ Ok? You all need to write about that. That’s exactly how it went down. Obviously there was some bad blood there when that happened. I love Roger Penske, so I’m going to help clear the story up for him.”
Newman was later addressed by the media about Rusty’s comments. Always the witty one, and never one to let himself get pushed around, Newman’s responses did not disappoint.
When asked if Rusty’s comments upset him, Newman responded, “Was he concious when he said it? …. It doesn’t matter to me. I know Rusty and his personalities - plural - and, everybody is different.”
Rusty was always apprehensive of Newman ever since the day that the Daytona 500 winner joined Penske Racing full-time back in 2002, and the two have never been on the same page ever since. The bad blood there could have a lot to do with the statements that Rusty made, but then again, there are probably few people in the sport as close to Penske as Wallace is. It is a bit shocking, however, that as one of NASCAR’s distinct faces in the broadcast booth now with ESPN taking the helm for the current portion of the Sprint Cup schedule, that Rusty would be so blatant in calling out one of the drivers, particularly one he has a history with. Darrell Waltrip caused quite a stir when he found himself in similar situation when he was bashing on Tony Stewart week after week, and many fans still take an anti-DW stance because of comments he made during that span.