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Tempers flare, fracas ensues

Ryan Newman’s crew riled after Kurt Busch smokes up pit stall

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Sunday, May. 13, 2012

Darlington Raceway can keep the billboards but just change the driver photos.

One year after Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch were involved in a postrace dustup following the Southern 500, drivers Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch picked up where the others left off.

Reminders of last year’s incident ended up being used in promotional billboards for this year’s race.

This time, several of Newman’s crew members confronted Kurt Busch on pit road Saturday night’s after Busch did a burnout through Newman’s team’s pit stall during the race. Busch was upset after a solid run in the race was ruined when he wrecked on Lap 361 of 368.

The fracas included one NASCAR official getting shoved onto Busch’s car and visits to the NASCAR hauler by Newman’s gas man, Andy Rueger, and crew chief, Tony Gibson.

Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president of competition, said the sanctioning body still was gathering facts and video.

“We haven’t talked to Kurt. We talked to Ryan a little bit,” Pemberton said. “We’re looking at everything we can.”

After the race, Busch slammed into the back of Newman’s car on pit road. Newman then drove around Busch and stopped in front of him. Newman got out of his car and briefly spoke to Busch. That’s when Newman’s crew members got involved.

Gibson said his team was rightfully upset with Busch’s actions on pit road.

“When you come ripping through somebody’s pit box like that, he could have took out five or six guys plus the officials pretty easy,” he said. “I don’t know how somebody didn’t get run over, to be honest with you.

“It was a miracle nobody got hit.”

Busch’s crew chief, Nick Harrison, said he knew Newman’s crew planned to confront his driver after the race.

“The gas man (Rueger), he come in there wanting to fight Kurt,” Harrison said. “… I knew it was going to happen.

“They came down there with a bunch of drama. It’s just part of racing. I think that’s what great for our sport. If they’re mad and want to fight, that’s what it is.”

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