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TStewart & JPMontoya win Pocono's frontrow...and RNewman & DHamlin confirm those 'secret' NASCAR penalties

   Ryan Newman: 'secretly' penalized by NASCAR three months ago for complaining about that frightening series of Talladega crashes (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   POCONO, Pa.
   Tony Stewart and Juan Pablo Montoya, both in remarkably good mood here, took the front row Friday afternoon for Sunday's Pennsylvania 500.
   But it was the latest in the NASCAR 'secret' penalties controversy that dominated questions and answers at Pocono Raceway.
   Ryan Newman confirmed Friday he was one of the men secretly penalized by NASCAR for what he said that NASCAR officials didn't like. And it was all about Talladega, where Newman has been involved in a number of bad wrecks there lately. Apparently it was for a specific interview that NASCAR didn't like.
   And Denny Hamlin confirmed he too was secretly fined by NASCAR for what he said. Apparently it was for a series of things Hamlin said over a period of time, including some Twitters.
   Newman, who has been one of this sport's staunchest safety advocates the past few years, and critical of NASCAR about some aspects of safety, would not specify just what he said that so angered NASCAR executives.
   The Newman penalty has become a hot button topic this week for a number of reasons: first, the secrecy surrounding it; second, the penalty coming in a season that NASCAR's Brian France opened by saying NASCAR was letting drivers 'take the gloves off this year.'
    And now that the Talladega safety angle has more clearly become part of this issue, that probably won't let it cool off much.
   Newman, who was penalized just after an outburst following the April 25th Talladega race, said he was first "frustrated" by the penalty "because I didn't understand what it was and why it was."
  Newman declined to pinpoint the specifics and insisted "I'm over it; it's behind me."
   He concedes the adrenaline after some of those incidents was rather high: "When you're running 200 mph and get crashed and end upside-down, and you can’t get out of your car for 12 minutes, you want to say some things you probably shouldn't say."
  But here is the sequence of events that have happened to Newman the past year and a half at Talladega, a series of bad crashes that have soured him on that type of racing. And of course he is not alone in that. But Newman, a college graduate engineer, has been one of the most vocal about pushing NASCAR to do more to make racing at Talladega safer.

  Here is what happened to Newman in this spring's 500 at Talladega:  http://bit.ly/aTZai7
  And that wasn't Newman's first crash of that weekend:  http://bit.ly/akpgSR
  Here's the video of Newman's Talladega crash last fall:   http://bit.ly/1c3Dan
  And here's what Newman had to say immediately after that crash:  http://bit.ly/cRmE15
  This is the April 2009 crash that Newman was referring to, when Carl Edwards' car landed on top of his: http://bit.ly/RtTcK
  And here's another example of recent Talladega crashes, Matt Kenseth last year: http://bit.ly/bgbXuo 

   Newman apparently still isn't that happy about the penalty but repeatedly said he didn't want to dwell on it: "I don't know if they (NASCAR) were wrong...but I can't say they were right either."
   In short, Newman said "It's just a situation that nobody wants to talk about. They want to keep private.
  "It's not good for our sport -- it should have never gotten leaked out."
   However if Newman has been penalized for criticism safety issues, that is quite different than what apparently got Denny Hamlin in dutch – complaining about seemingly capricious yellow flags.
   While NASCAR racing is safer today than it's ever been, and these stock cars are remarkably stout, there are still a remarkable number of bad crashes, in part this season caused by NASCAR's 'Boys, have at it.'
   Newman – like every driver here Friday – repeated the NASCAR mantra "The idea is we all need to be positive about the sport, in every aspect of it."
   Yet secret penalties by the sanctioning body is seen by some as disturbing, something quite unexpected, especially after the way France opened the season: .
   "We are going to open it up -- because we want to see what you want to see: More contact. This is a contact sport.
   "We want to see drivers mixing it up.
    "We want to see the emotion of the world's best drivers, just as much as everybody else does. And that is the goal."
    Apparently only to a point, however.
    Nevertheless, Newman, who appears quite chastened by the whole affair, insisted "The secret part of it is a good thing. That's what people need to understand."'
    Not quite sure.
    But Newman repeated "I don't want to talk about the negative.
   "NASCAR doesn't want to talk about the negative.
    "We are here to present a great race for the fans....to enjoy with their family, and then go home and talk about how much fun they had."
    But with the threat of 'secret' penalties hanging over drivers, why should anyone believe much of anything any of these drivers say?
    Newman insists "I think everybody can voice their opinion.....NASCAR is telling you to be careful of how you voice opinion...where you voice it...and the impact it has."
    And he repeated what other drivers here are saying, seemingly at NASCAR's behest: If there's an issue to complain about "we need to go up to the truck and have a private conversation (with NASCAR)."
    Shut up and race?
    "There are a lot of things kept quiet in NASCAR," Newman said.
    "So why talk about it.
    "Let's talk about the racing. Let's talk about what we can do to put more fans in the stands and put on a better show for the fans."
    Well, maybe these drivers and these NASCAR executives should start by being open and honest and transparent about things with the fans....who happen to be very astute about all these things.

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Wait-a-minute... How is it


How is it that NASCAR is coming after Ryan Newman for comments made last year, when it was the FIRST of this year they claimed a "hush-hush" policy on the sport? If that was the case, claiming the past, knock up Tony Stewart for the "wrasslin'" comments and Jack Roush on the "Japs", Toyota invasion.

I think Newman's comments wasn't about Talladega, but in an interview I saw on SPEED last week at Indy probably got him in more hot water than the Talladega comments. In the interview, he equated what Carl Edwards did to Brad Keselowski at Gateway was almost "ATTEMPTED MANSLAUGHTER".


Now, imagine the NASCAR Brass trying to backpedal on that one, if BK would have gotten serious injured and CE braggin' about it and they ALLOWING IT TO HAPPEN. There was a District Attorney lickin' his political chops for Election Day!

sorry if i'm not getting it

sorry if i'm not getting it all exactly time-line straight. but then neither nascar nor ryan is making anything clear. i just put up a series of incidents ryan has had at talladega as background for what i understand nascar penalized him for -- something he said at talladega after this april's 500. i understand he was penalized within a week after that talladega race. i might not have the exact incident pinned down yet.
but -- and this is not meant to be facetious -- we in the media (we few) are curious about a 'statute of limitations' on this stuff.
but, to your point, perhaps there is a legal angle to some of this that we haven't figured out yet. remember ayrton senna....

From what I've read of your

From what I've read of your article, the crashes and the aftermath, the only comments I saw from Ryan was of the 2010 practice crash and talked of "spinning out competitors for payback", but I thought he was being more sarcastic than anything else. And since NASCAR implemented the "Boys, have at it", shouldn't Ryan be "allowed" say something of an aggressive behavior? He seemed to be more critical of NASCAR after last year flip at Talladega. I'on kno'. I missed Ryan's comments from this year but if they were made public, I'm sure we would have heard them and replayed via the media.

R.I.P. Ayrton Senna & Dale Earnhardt. That was a horrible wreck and the Italian Gov't was looking for justice for Formula One's greatest driver. Formula One is a whole different animal than NASCAR. Had Carl Edwards pulled that "payback stunt" at Atlanta in F1, they would have banned him from the sport for life. Period. Interesting. Did the Volusia County D.A. go after RCR or NASCAR on Dale Earnhardt's death? And if not, why?

NASCAR's "safety" crews are

NASCAR's "safety" crews are scary slow sometimes to respond to wrecks. Thank goodness the fiery crashes are down to less than a handful per season. The only time you will see a top notch response to an incident is at Indy. Their crews are almost at the crash before the wheels stop spinning. I'm being a bit facetious, but their response time is unmatched anywhere.

Drivers have preached it before, but NASCAR needs a traveling safety crew that they put together. The BS that NASCAR spouts about "the locals know the track and hospitals better" can be overcome in two hours, tops, and that's just for the first trip to the track. If I'm a driver, I don't want Joe Blow Volunteer Fireman coming to get me when I'm in a serious wreck. I want someone I know, someone who knows EXACTLY what to do, and a crew that will be there in less than a minute. You get maybe one of those three things per current NASCAR procedures. The reason NASCAR won't use a traveling crew is because they don't want to pay for it. Safety be damned. Let's save some money.

Good to know Newman had the stones to say it out loud.

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