Ryan Newman thought he held his line two weeks ago at Bristol when he and Matt DiBenedetto made contact late in the race.
“I did what I needed to do to be competitive,” said Newman. “I haven’t seen any replays (so) I don’t know exactly how he hit me twice in two separate straightaways in the right rear; if I pinched him, or he didn’t give himself enough room, or what. But in the end, it was nothing intentional by me.”
The contact occurred as DiBenedetto, the race leader, came upon Newman, who was still on the lead lap, and other traffic. Crinkling the left front fender, DiBenedetto said the damage tightened his car up enough to hinder his efforts to hold off Denny Hamlin for the race win.
But DiBenedetto said he didn’t believe Newman was the reason he lost the race. A few days after the race on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s podcast he reiterated that point, although DiBenedetto admitted that he might want to chat with Newman about the incident.
“Not about racing,” DiBenedetto told Earnhardt. “You don’t ask Ryan Newman about racing hard. He doesn’t discriminate – that’s just him. But the stuffing me part… that was uncalled for. But yeah, when he stuffed me, I was like, ‘Oh, man, you gotta be kidding me.’ So checked me up big time, and then we got around him.”
Newman said he doesn’t have a reason to talk to DiBenedetto, and doesn’t think he moved up into the LFR driver.
“I even told somebody after the race, I said, ‘I don’t know what his deal was; I felt I was in the same spot with every car that was on the outside of me’,” he said. “And I didn’t hit any cars or have any cars hit me up until he came on the outside of me. Now, he did surprise me off of Turn 2 the first time, but I thought I left him plenty of room.”
If DiBenedetto had won at Bristol, that would have eliminated a playoff position. In the moment, DiBenedetto wondered if Newman would race him harder because of that scenario. Newman, who enters Darlington 14 points to the good of the cutline, said it didn’t cross his mind.
“I was racing to race hard,” he said. “I thought I left him plenty of room, and there was I think 50 laps still left in the race which could have been three cautions. So, I don’t think it really has any relevance.”