Newman Won't Look Back
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on January 28, 2014 | 3:50 P.M. EST
Ryan Newman says he has nothing to prove other than to himself after moving from Stewart-Haas Racing to Richard Childress Racing. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Call it a raw deal. Call it a business decision. Call it whatever you want, but Ryan Newman doesn’t look back upon his final season last year with Stewart-Haas Racing as a source of motivation.
“I have nothing to prove this year from any other year in my entire career other than the fact of ... achieving my goal and that is winning the Sprint Cup championship,’’ said the new Richard Childress Racing driver during Tuesday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Media Tour. “There is nothing that I have to prove to anybody else but myself.’’
A year ago, Newman signed a one-year contract extension to remain at Stewart-Haas Racing but knew that his position was tenuous. When the team announced it would bring in Kevin Harvick for this season, co-owner Tony Stewart said that there was no room for Newman and that the team wasn’t looking to expand to four cars for 2014.
A month later, co-owner Gene Haas said he hired Kurt Busch for a fourth car and that his company would sponsor Busch’s team. That led some fans to wonder why wasn’t Newman considered for that ride.
Newman has found a home at Richard Childress Racing and already he’s experienced something he hadn’t in previous stops at Team Penske and Stewart-Haas Racing.
Newman says this is “the first time in my career I’ve been put together with an organization and a team that is already established. When I started at Penske, we built the team. When I went to Stewart-Haas, we brought an existing team over an pieced together a bunch of guys.’’
Newman slips into the team Jeff Burton drove for last season with Luke Lambert as crew chief.
If history provides any clues, this could be a good season for Newman. He finished in the top 10 in points in his first season at Penske and at Stewart-Haas.
To continue that streak, though, car owner Richard Childress’ team needs to raise its level. Team officials are confident after strengthening their management structure the past two years.
Although Childress last won a Cup title in 1994 - “It’s disappointing,’’ Childress said of the drought - the organization had at least one car in the top five in points three of the last four years.
One of the keys for Newman this season will be working with a new crew chief. Lambert has an engineering background and that should help the communication with Newman, who has an engineering degree.
“It does allow us to have conversations that are maybe a little bit more technically oriented than the normal driver-crew chief conversation,’’ Lambert said. “That’s certainly something that is helpful.
“A lot of times we’ll stumble across things and we’ll get the 50 percent performance gain that is available there but to get that extra 50 percent of whatever that performance gain is we have to understand it. The other advantage is him being mathematically savvy helps in race strategy. I like to be able to have a communication with a driver where I can discuss strategy options and provide him with a little bit of logic for things that he can witness during the race that I can’t see. That takes a little bit more complex analysis than what certain drivers would be willing or want to do in the racecar.’’