Ryan Newman will fill the No. 6 Ford at Roush Fenway Racing beginning in 2019, giving longtime team owner Jack Roush a veteran presence in the seat.
The team owner and driver announced the news in a joint press conference Saturday at Richmond Raceway, just hours before the Federated Auto Parts 400 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Reports of the news first trickled out Friday.
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Newman is one of 30 drivers in NASCAR history to make at least 600 starts. He has 18 career wins – including eight in 2003 – and joins Roush from Richard Childress Racing, where he’s driven the No. 31 since the start of the 2014 season. He and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who drives the No. 17 Ford, give Roush his complete two-car lineup in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
“I’ve never wanted to stop, I never wanted to quit, never wanted to retire and want to win a championship,” said the 40-year-old Newman, now in his 17th full season in the Monster Energy Series. “I look forward to this opportunity. Obviously, finishing out this year as strongly as we both can in our respective positions, but at the same time with enthusiasm for the Daytona 500 in 2019.”
Trevor Bayne was the full-time driver of the No. 6 Ford from 2015-17, then split time with veteran Matt Kenseth in the seat this year when Roush opted to bring the veteran driver back to get additional feedback.
Saturday, Roush thanked both Bayne and Kenseth as the “most recent custodians” of the No. 6 ride, saying that Kenseth’s input has helped make modest improvements. Still, both cars missed the NASCAR Playoffs this year, with the No. 17 currently 20th in the team owner standings and the No. 6 sitting in 25th.
“Even though the results haven’t justified the effort, we’ve had more speed in our cars and we’ve got a direction that’s going to be clear that’ll make better race cars and better racing for our fans going forward,” Roush said. “Ryan Newman has been one of the most fierce drivers that we’ve faced on the race track. … He has demonstrated himself to have good values, and one of the things that a driver has to have is a code that makes sense to other drivers.”
Roush had confirmed earlier this month on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that Bayne would not return to the seat in 2019, while indicating at the time he had a driver in mind as a replacement.
Roush Fenway Racing President Steve Newmark said that Kenseth was involved in helping determine his successor. Kenseth, 46, had made 10 starts this season heading into Saturday night’s 400-lapper at Richmond, but Newmark said he indicated he was not seeking a full-time ride for next season.
“He came and sat down with me and said, when he was looking at everything, talking to his family, considering at what stage he is in his life, meaning that he’s got four young girls, has been on the road for almost 20 years sacrificing a lot of family time,” said Newmark, who added that the team would meet with Kenseth in the coming days about a possible role with the organization in the future. “He just wasn’t prepared to run full time, and we talked a lot about that and he said he owed it to his family.
“So we obviously respect his decision, even through this process even though this has really ramped up in the last five to 10 days. He’s been helpful on trying to guide us on the direction to go for 2019 with drivers and other things.”
Newmark added that other drivers had approached RFR about the 2019 vacancy, inquiries that he called “flattering.”
“For us, the clear-cut favorite was Ryan and we’re really glad that when he looked at his options, he decided this was the right match,” Newmark said. “I think at this point where we look at where we are as far as our development process, I think Jack mentioned we’ve had a lot of speed at race tracks and I think we just felt that Ryan was the right person to come in and perform immediately.
“If you look at his track record, it’s as good as anyone out there. We also just felt like he could also help us take that next step based on his experience and his background.”
Newman advanced to the Championship 4 in 2014, the first year of NASCAR’s elimination-style playoff format. He finished second that season to champion Kevin Harvick. Newman also qualified for the postseason in 2015 (11th) and 2017 (16th) with the organization.
It’s the latest move for Newman, who began his career driving for Roger Penske. Following eight full-time seasons with “The Captain,” Newman moved to Stewart-Haas Racing from 2009-13 before joining RCR.