Tempers flare at New Hampshire racetrack

ASSOCIATED PRESS Kurt Busch walks to the ambulance after crashing his car as brother Kyle Busch (18) and Brad Keselowski (2) pass during the race in New Hampshire.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Kurt Busch walks to the ambulance after crashing his car as brother Kyle Busch (18) and Brad Keselowski (2) pass during the race in New Hampshire.
Posted: July 19, 2013

MAYBE IT WAS the stifling summer heat and humidity . . .

Normally, people go to New Hampshire in midsummer to relax. But there was more verbal sniping than usual after Sunday's New Hampshire Sprint Cup race. Kyle Busch vs. Ryan Newman . . . Kevin Harvick vs. Marcos Ambrose . . . Paul Menard vs. Jeff Gordon. Set up the boxing ring near the garage area at Indianapolis next week: We may have some action.

The sniping highlight was Busch-Newman. After Kyle's brother, Kurt, was involved in an accident with Newman, Kyle said: "I really hated that Kurt got tore up. I felt like he had the best car here today, but, man, just stupidity.

"Ryan Newman's the biggest stupid idiot out here, and he's a big ogre and can do whatever he wants, because he can probably kick anybody's butt. So, no sense in getting in a fight with him, but glad he's out of a job."

The next day, on Sirius XM radio, "Shrek" Newman responded: "I'm just afraid if I rearranged his face, I might fix it. We know he's not very bright. He's a heck of a talent, but he's not very bright, and I'll leave it at that."

Newman said his bumping Busch's car during the race was in response to what Busch did to him.

"I admit to goring Kyle down the straightaway after he blasted me into the corner," he said. "I didn't crash him. He didn't crash me. I don't know what he's got to be mad about. Evidently, he's got a bone to pick for some reason.

"It seems like after his comments about me not having a ride and all that stuff, seems like he's got way more to lose than I do, so I think he might check his trap before he gets too ahead of himself. If he's going to run his mouth, he better be able to back running his mouth."

Later, Kyle acknowledged his remark about Newman losing his ride with Stewart-Haas Racing crossed the line.

From what I saw during the race, Newman had nothing to do with the accident. Kurt's car was bumped from behind by Matt Kenseth and slid up into Newman's car, taking them both out.

With seven races to go before the Chase field is set and Newman pursuing a new ride for next year, if he doesn't qualify for the Chase, he won't have much to lose if he harasses Kyle on the racetracks. Newman is 19th in points, 36 behind 10th place. It's good for NASCAR's peacemakers that the Cup teams have this weekend off.

Regarding the other disputes, Harvick said after contact with Ambrose: "I just barely touched him. I'm not giving into that guy. That guy is a weapon every week. So I just held my line and he drove across the front of my nose."

Menard was annoyed with Gordon for hitting his car several times. Menard is not in the best moods these days, because in the previous seven races, he has plummeted to 20th place from eighth.

Almost overlooked in the wild and crazy day was Joey Logano hitting one of his crew members as he swerved out of the pits. Responsible drivers do not want to endanger their crew members, who can be the difference between successful races and frustrating, steering-wheel pounding races.

On the racing side, Brian Vickers' winning the New Hampshire race was good for NASCAR. Included in the feel-good category were Jeff Burton finishing third, Aric Almirola fifth and Bobby Labonte running in the top five. The finishes were the best of the season for Burton and Almirola.

Vickers has been sharing the No. 55 Toyota ride with Mark Martin and co-owner Michael Waltrip. The win was Vickers' first since August 2009 at Michigan. In his only Chase appearance, he finished 12th in '09 when he won six poles. The following year, he was hospitalized with blood clots.

Vickers now has three career Cup victories. Asked whether he thinks winning at New Hampshire seals the deal for a full-time ride next year in the No. 55, Vickers replied: "Nothing is a guarantee in life. I've learned that the hard way. Even when you think it's done, it's not done, but it definitely goes a long way."

Despite standing 17th in points, Burton, winner of 21 Cup races, but none since 2008, still thinks he has a chance to be a Chaser for the fifth time. Burton is 25 points out of 10th place.

"The only way for us to get in the Chase is to win some races," Burton told me before New Hampshire. "To win you've got to have speed, and there's no question we have it."

ARCA in New Jersey

The ARCA series returns to New Jersey Motorsports Park on Sunday, July 28. Among those competing in the Barbera's Auto Land 150 in Millville are veteran Frank Kimmel, Andrew Ranger and Chase Elliott.

Earlier this season, Kimmel tied the late Iggy Katona for most ARCA career wins (79).

Ranger has won the last two ARCA races at NJMP. Last year, the Canadian passed Elliott on the last lap to win. Elliott, 17, became the youngest stock car superspeedway winner in history with his victory in the ARCA race at Pocono last month. Elliott is the son of former NASCAR champion Bill Elliott.

Sunday's ARCA race at Chicagoland Speedway will be on the Speed channel at 6 p.m.

Email: fleiscb@phillynews.com

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