Auto Racing | Rusty Wallace says Penske team fired Ryan Newman
Two weeks after Ryan Newman and team owner Roger Penske announced the current Daytona 500 champion would not return next season — a decision Newman called "mutual" — Rusty Wallace, a former NASCAR champion turned commentator, said Newman was fired.
INDIANAPOLIS — Ryan Newman's long goodbye to Penske Racing isn't going quite as smoothly as planned.
Two weeks after Newman and team owner Roger Penske announced the current Daytona 500 champion would not return next season — a decision Newman called "mutual" — Rusty Wallace, a former NASCAR champion turned commentator, said Newman was fired.
"He didn't leave. I've read many, many stories that said that," Wallace said. "Roger Penske called Ryan Newman up to his offices and said, 'I don't need your services next year.' Ryan Newman didn't come to him and say, 'I'm leaving.' "
Newman brushed aside the claim by his former Penske Racing teammate.
"I don't know what Rusty's grounds are, what he's trying to prove by saying that. That wasn't the case," Newman said. "Roger and I decided mutually to not continue and it was more my decision, I would say. I said our goals didn't align and for that reason, and that reason alone, we decided to not continue after 2008."
Newman said Wallace's comments might have been residue from their frosty relationship while driving for Penske before Wallace's retirement after the 2005 season.
"It doesn't matter to me," Newman said. "I know Rusty and I know his personalities, plural, and everybody's different."
Newman enters Sunday's Allstate 400 at The Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway 16th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings and has been critical of the Penske program at times.
• Kasey Kahne of Enumclaw enters Sunday's race 11th in points, barely inside the top 12 that will advance to the Chase for the Sprint Cup after 26 races. Thus he might try to avoid high-risk situations at Indy.
"If you take too many chances, you can get offline and kill your speed, get sideways, spin out or whatever," he said.
• Johnny Benson survived a late flurry of cautions and held off Ron Hornaday Jr. in a two-lap shootout at the finish to win the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Power Stroke Diesel 200 in Clermont, Ind.
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