Still unsure about next year's ride, Newman tries to focus on the present
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Ryan Newman is walking a tight wire these days, trying to get his Stewart-Haas Racing team into NASCAR’s Chase For The Sprint Cup while also seeking a ride for 2014 and beyond.
Wednesday, the 17-time winner was tooling around Bristol Motor Speedway, practicing and qualifying for the TitanRoof 150 NASCAR Whelen Modified Series race, scheduled to run later that night.
“If it goes good, it’s a nice diversion,” Newman said of outing. “If not, it’s just an additional headache.”
Newman, 35, is currently 15th in points and fourth in the Wild Card standings – the two final spots outside the top-10 that will qualify for the Chase. He will not be returning to SHR next season, thus he’s not only competing for a spot in the Chase, but for future employment during these next few weeks.
“Right now I’m keeping track of a whole lot of other things that don’t make my race car faster,” he said. “That doesn’t stress me. I have to just spend a little more time … than I wanted to.”
He says he is “a little further along” toward what his plans might include for next season, “but nothing to really talk about.
“It’s all talked about on my end,” he said.
“Everything kind of changed last week with some of the rumors that went around. Ultimately, you never know; everything could change again next week.
“In a matter of a week, you had the rumors of a fourth car at SHR, you’ve got a Ganassi ride that opens up. You just don’t know. Anything can change. Look at (Tony) Stewart’s situation.”
Stewart, co-owner and driver at SHR, suffered a broken right leg when he crashed in a sprint car race Aug. 5 in Iowa. Team officials announced Aug. 19 that Stewart would not return to competition this season.
In the meantime, the organization has been said to be wooing Kurt Busch for a potential fourth car next year.
“If it didn’t surprise me as well as every other person on this planet that has anything to do with motorsports, we’d all be lying to ourselves,” Newman said of the reports.
But, he said, he doesn’t feel a fourth car should have meant he should have been allowed to remain at SHR.
“Not at all. They already made their announcement; I’m done and out,” he said. “Whatever they want to do, they can do. It’s within their power. They have to budget it out.”
There are possible openings elsewhere, but none are clear-cut. Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing, which will notretain the services of Juan Pablo Montoya, will need a driver for the No. 42 Chevrolet. However, the organization already has up-and-coming Kyle Larson under contract and there is speculation that Larson, who has no Cup experience, could be put in the car.
Richard Childress Racing could add a fourth team, possibly opening a seat, however sponsorship for such an endeavor hasn’t been announced.
And Furniture Row Racing could have an opening if driver Kurt Busch decides to leave t season’s end.
“The thing you look at right now, the performance of all three (teams) has been good,” Newman said. “Some better than others, some better than others at certain race tracks.
“Juan’s deal was really close to what I did at Indy. He got fired one week and he’s P1 in practice, P1 in practice (the following week). It’s like OK. It’s coincidental but in the end it’s like ‘really?’ And you see Kurt out there (in the top 10 in points).
“It’s good that there’s good equipment out there, but it’s also tough because you’re competing against good drivers too.”