Season Review: Ryan Newman
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on November 26, 2013 | 7:00 A.M. EST
Ryan Newman, who made the Chase for the third time in the last five years, will drive for Richard Childress Racing next season. (Photo: Getty Images)
Ryan Newman scored a win and made the Chase in what turned out to be his final season with Stewart-Haas Racing.
But the story of Newman’s year wasn’t so much what he did on the track as much as what transpired off it.
Team co-owner Tony Stewart announced in July that Newman would not return in 2014 due to a lack of sponsorship and funding.
“I truly wish we were able to facilitate four teams at this time,” Stewart said. “We’re just not able to do that. Down the road, I’m sure if that becomes a possibility, he will definitely be on the list to fill the fourth seat again.”
However, just a few weeks later with Stewart recovering from leg injuries sustained in a sprint car accident, the team’s other co-owner reversed course and hired Kurt Busch to pilot a fourth entry at SHR.
The turn of events left Newman confused.
“To me, it was more funny than any kind of frustration from my end,” said Newman, who became a free agent. "Obviously, it frees up a situation for 2014 but in the end it doesn’t affect me.’’
Newman went on to land a ride at Richard Childress Racing for the new season and, in the end, focused on getting the No. 39 car into the Chase.
Newman’s victory came on one of the sport’s biggest stages when he took the checkered flag in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July. Newman took advantage of a slow pit stop by Jimmie Johnson to inherit the lead and went on to score an emotional win.
“I don't realize it yet. It's a dream come true," said Newman, an Indiana native, after the victory. "It can't hit you all at once, it's not good enough. It will take a week or so for it to sink in."
The rest of Newman’s regular season didn’t go as well, and he struggled down the stretch, apparently missing the Chase. But when NASCAR penalized Michael Waltrip Racing and Martin Truex Jr. for their role in the Richmond manipulation controversy, Newman found himself in the playoffs.
"I am proud that NASCAR took a stand with respect to what went on," Newman said. "I know it was a tough decision to make.”
Once the Chase began, Newman quickly faded from championship contention.
Although he scored a 10th-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway in the opening Chase race, a 16th at New Hampshire followed by a 35th at Kansas sealed his fate.
Newman ended his SHR career finishing 17th in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“I’ve got to thank everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing for everything over the last five years,” Newman said. “We didn’t reach all of the goals that we set out to, but we did accomplish a lot together.”
Newman finished 2013 with six top-five and 18 top-10 finishes.
Motor Racing Network continues our countdown to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series awards banquet in Las Vegas with a look at the 10th-place finisher Kurt Busch on Wednesday, Nov. 27. MRN will broadcast the Awards banquet on Dec. 6 starting at 8 p.m. ET.