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Newman set to return to SHR, hopes sponsors follow

September 06, 2012, David Caraviello, NASCAR.com



Newman set to return to SHR, hopes sponsors follow

RICHMOND, Va. -- Signing Ryan Newman to an extension was the easy part for Stewart-Haas Racing. Now comes the difficult part.

The driver of the No. 39 car will be with SHR for at least another more season after agreeing to a one-year extension with the organization, but he still faces the unknown of who will sponsor his vehicle in 2013. Primary backer U.S. Army is bowing out after this year under pressure from two members of Congress trying to eliminate military sponsorships, part of a larger sponsor shuffle at SHR that also includes Office Depot, the primary on teammate Tony Stewart's vehicle, departing at season's end.

""I had conversations with other teams, but never pursued it, never put anything on paper."

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"I feel fairly confident that we'll have good branding on the car," Newman said Thursday at Richmond International Raceway, site of Saturday night's Sprint Cup regular-season finale. "I can't sit here and say who exactly it's going to be and how it's going to play out, or what race is going to be what. But I can tell you this for sure, it's going to be multiple sponsorships. I think the days of having one banner sponsor for an entire season are pretty much over."

Newman has been a part of Stewart-Haas since the beginning, becoming Stewart's teammate when the rebranded organization was launched for the 2009 season. He's won three races for the team, including one this season, and Saturday night has an outside chance of qualifying for the Chase via a wild-card berth.

Although in a contract year, Newman said his focus was always on returning to Stewart-Haas. "I had conversations with other teams," he added, "but never pursued it, never put anything on paper. It was kind of more, I guess, like fishing in a pond. Every once in a while you cast in a different direction just to see if you get a bite."

Though there may have been some nibbles, Newman was content to stay put. "There's rides out there. There are opportunities out there," he said. "It just wasn't my goal to go out there and knock every door down and get a proposal or a written offer from every team out there. That's not what my personal goal was. I have more respect for the people who have given me an opportunity than that."

The sponsorship situation, he admitted, is a work in progress. Newman also recognizes that his team is taking something of a gamble bringing him back without a primary sponsor lined up for the No. 39 car. SHR is on track to expand to three Cup entries for next season, and right now only one of those vehicles -- that of Danica Patrick -- has a primary sponsor set to go in 2013.

"I think there's a certain amount of risk that they have. There's nothing signed as of right now for 2013 for me ... and you all know yourself the situation with Office Depot," Newman said. "So it's not an easy sign for them, but between myself and Tony Stewart and [co-owner] Gene Haas and everybody at Stewart-Haas, they had a trust and a confidence level in me to get the job done. You look at our performance, we're not performing bad. We're not in the Chase right now, but we're not performing bad. We have a victory. There's a lot of teams out there that don't have a victory -- and have sponsorship."

This weekend, Newman's more immediate focus is trying to get into the Chase for the third time in four years. At 17th in points, his only hope is to win the race and hope leading contenders Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon have trouble.

YearWinsTop-5sTop-10sLead-Lap Fin.DNFsPolesLaps LedAvg. St.Avg. Fin.Rank
2010141428416311.915.715
20111917270340312.214.010
2012*1381540129.916.317

"As simple and as stupid as it sounds, we're here to win," he said. "That's what we have to do, that's our goal. I'm not going to sit here and tell you I'll do absolutely everything, crash anybody out of the way just to get that opportunity, because that's not the way I race or who I am. We need to put ourselves in position as a true competitor and a respectful competitor to go out there and get the job done."