Newman keeps plans for 2014 under wraps
September 05, 2013, Holly Cain, NASCAR.com
RICHMOND, Va. –While the make-up of the Stewart-Haas Racing organization continues to take shape for 2014, its departing driver, Ryan Newman remained coy about his plans for next year.
Kurt Busch, who joins SHR next season as the team’s fourth driver, told the crowd attending Thursday’s Wild Card contenders Fan Question and Answer event outside Richmond International Raceway that Mark Martin will continue to work with the team next year. He may help out with preseason testing and/or serve in a mentor capacity for Danica Patrick in what would be her sophomore season.
Martin is currently driving 12 of this season’s final 13 races in SHR’s No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet filling in for three-time champ Tony Stewart, who will miss the rest of the schedule while recoveringfrom a severely broken leg.
“It's an opportunity of a lifetime to be teamed up with [Kevin] Harvick, with Tony, Danica, us four in the same meetings, it could be hell or could be great -- I'm just kidding about the hell part,’’ Busch told fans. “There's a lot of respect for Tony being the top guy on the totem pole and then Harvick and I are coming in at the same time, and then Mark Martin is in the mix. He's going to be there helping out Danica next year.’’
Newman, meanwhile, offered little more than a grin and a couple evasive quips to reporters about where he’ll be working in 2014, after finding out in August that he won’t be returning to SHR.
He would only grin as reporters peppered him with cleverly-phrased questions to try to get him to divulges any news.
“Signed contract? Letter of intent? A promise? An agreement?”
All he did was smile.
Asked later privately if he understood the natural inclination to assume his plans would be forthcoming Newman again smiled and nodded.
Busch’s exit to SHR next year leaves an open seat in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevy. And Wednesday, veteran Jeff Burton announced he would not be back behind the wheel of the Richard Childress Racing’s No. 31 Caterpillar Chevy, leaving another prime seat vacant.
“Absolutely, I can see that [people are expecting my announcement would be next),’’ Newman said. “I see that from different sides but there is more than one opportunity out there.’’
It’s long been rumored Newman would move to RCR, but Thursday he refused to acknowledge as much. Or, he was at least intent on reminding that that there are multiple options for the 2008 Daytona 500 winner.
Newman enters the weekend ranked 14th in points, 20 points behind 10th place Kurt Busch. His victory last month in NASCAR’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway puts him in position to earn a Wild Card berth in Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at the three-quarter mile track.
A victory in the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevy at Richmond would assure him of one of the two Wild Card positions. He is also a legitimate contender to race his way into the top-10 in the Sprint Cup Series standings.
“I’m focused on this weekend,’’ Newman said gamely dodging questions about the timing of any upcoming announcement.