Ryan Newman moving on; 2014 plans in limbo
July 12, 2013, Holly Cain, NASCAR.com
LOUDON, N.H. -- Ryan Newman said he got the phone call from team owner Tony Stewart on Wednesday evening confirming that he would not be returning to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014.
“We talked basically for 20 minutes and that was it,’’ Newman said Friday just before Sprint Cup qualifying at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “That was my first knowledge of what I won’t be doing 2014.’’
Hours earlier Kevin Harvick announced he would be driving SHR’s third Chevy, which will use the No. 4 and carry over Harvick’s current Budweiser sponsorship. When Stewart confirmed the change, he displayed the expected mixed emotions.
“We’re not ready to expand to a fourth team,’’ Stewart said. “Unfortunately, this will be the last year we have Ryan. That’s probably what’s made this a bittersweet day. I’m bringing in another of one of my friends to the organization, but I’m also ... losing a friend at the end of the year to the organization."
Newman reiterated Stewart’s pledge that the two remain committed to a “great” friendship even if they won’t be working alongside one another anymore. That was also discussed at length when they spoke earlier in the week.
“I can’t say I’m happy with the way everything unfolded,’’ Newman said. “I know there are business decisions and sometimes business decisions trump friendships -- and I don’t feel like that was the case.
“In the end, I’m happy with the three wins that I’ve had so far with Stewart-Haas and the performance of the cars and everything. There will be a change for me in 2014 and I don’t know what that change is.
“I do not know what my future holds. I have no idea right now. And I had no idea at this time last year. That’s something that weighs on my shoulders and I have a little homework to do right now.
“That’s part of racing and that’s part of the situation I’m in.”
Newman said he had not even spoken with other teams yet, despite the fact he always knew he was “free agent” at the end of this season anyway. He had hoped to re-sign with Stewart-Haas, but said this week, the most important thing is finding a competitive situation with a team that really wants him.
“There are organizations out there that are capable of winning championships and capable of racing into the Chase to give themselves an opportunity at a championship,’’ Newman said. “It’s obvious that there are some seats that will be coming available.
“To me, I first and foremost want to be wanted for my ability behind the wheel as well as what I can do for the sponsors and it’s not easy out there right now. I want to be someplace where I’m wanted and have common goals of winning the championships.
“I’ve been really focused on this year and at this time of the season, the silly gets even sillier. You never know what becomes available.’’
Newman, whose No. 39 WIX Filters Chevy was among the fastest during practice Friday at New Hampshire, is ranked 16th going into Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 301 (1 p.m. ET, TNT) at the 1.058-mile oval. He’s only 17 points behind 10th place (Stewart) and a guaranteed position in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup postseason.
And his eight top-10s -- including one last week at Daytona -- are best among the current Stewart-Haas Racing drivers, himself, Stewart and rookie Danica Patrick.
Newman, 35, conceded there will be a lot of elements to finding his place with a new organization. And Stewart was adamant he would “do everything I can to help Ryan anyway I can moving forward in his effort to find another team next year.’’
Added Stewart: “I’m behind him 100 percent, I believe in him 100 percent and I wish we were able to facilitate four teams at this time but we’re just not able to do that."
As for Newman, the only driver with a college engineering degree, he says it’s time to start doing “homework.”
“As an engineer we don’t like to use the word 'cobble' together, but it takes everything: a good team with the right resources, the financial side of it and a driver that can drive the rocket,’’ Newman said. “That’s part of the homework getting it all together and then you throw into that the right personalities and putting people together.
“I want to be competitive. I’m not going to go out there just go find a ride, I want to find a ride with someone who has the same goals and expectations as I do.’’