Stewart-Haas Racing’s Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman are making it clear, they don’t think blocking is cool. Last weekend Stewart took matters into his own hands by expressing displeasure with the way drivers, specifically Brian Vickers, were racing.
[media-credit name=”www.HaasCNC.com” align=”alignright” width=”226″][/media-credit]Stewart sent a message, one he reiterated in Daytona: from now on if you block, you’re getting wrecked. Now Newman is offering his opinion and like his boss and teammate, feels blocking is unnecessary.
“I’m not a fan at all of blocking,” said Newman. “If you don’t block on an oval, you shouldn’t block on a road course; and there are a lot of guys who get in the bad habit of blocking on a road course. Especially in turn 7 and turn 11 at Infineon.”
The pair’s frustrations carry over from last weekend’s first road course race. Stewart drilled Vickers into the tire barriers in turn 11 and admitted it was intentional. It wasn’t just last weekend however, Stewart hasn’t been happy with the way his competitors has been racing for a while.
Newman found out what Stewart was talking about last weekend. Just as Stewart did before him, Newman tried to take matters into his own hands but it didn’t work out for him either.
“I had guys that blocked me and I let them know about it and I got turned around twice in turn 11,” he said. “So, the blocking part is not cool at all. And it’s something that we as drivers have to address and gain a little more respect out of each other so that we’re not doing that. We can have great racing and great passing there without the blocking.”
The problem according to both Newman and Stewart is that blocking doesn’t just take place at road courses or restrictor plate tracks. Although Stewart did acknowledged that with the new two-car drafting you don’t see much blocking anymore. Newman however, says there’s a fine balance between road courses and ovals.
“There are times when I’m blocked at Dover or Charlotte or places like that and it’s much less often than it is at the road courses,” he said. “The road course is the most you’ll ever get blocked or blocking is a part of what we do as whole. Go back to 1979 when Donnie [Allison] ran Cale [Yarborough] down. He was block of sorts. You saw what happened because of it.”
But unlike the 1979 Daytona 500, the incident that has Stewart so upset didn’t happen on the last lap.
“But it’s every lap is like a last lap,” explained Newman. “You look at the way our competition is, we race every lap like it’s the last lap. There are times when it does slow down a little bit. California and Michigan, big places, Pocono, where you can only do so much. There comes a point where you have to save your racecar and save your tires and save your brakes.”
As Newman explains, double-file restarts have changed everything. It might be exciting for the fans but the drivers have gotten more aggressive or in Newman’s words, more demanding.
“We’re literally going for everything we possibly can,” he said. “And if that means somebody else’s throat, that’s part of it sometimes. Going for their throat and ripping their throat out are two different things.”
The term respect is one that is often thrown about. Though it’s been more thrown out when it comes to actions on the track some drivers might say. General theory being race how you would like to be raced. Instead, drivers are getting better at taking and having a hard time receiving – payback.
Stewart and Newman are two that aren’t going to take it any longer. If drivers aren’t willing to come together and come to an understanding than what occurred in Sonoma might just continue and it means “boys, have at it,” has only just begun.