The news that came out of Loudon, New Hampshire this weekend left Ryan Newman without a ride for the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
Newman has driven the last five seasons with Stewart-Hass Racing and was part of the original team when it opened doors for the 2009 Cup season. Due to lack of full time funding and the team adding Danica Patrick last season and Kevin Harvick in 2014 that meant Newman’s days were numbered.
Now we know Newman won’t return to SHR in 2014 and will have to search for a new ride.
Newman has made 404 Cup starts with reaching victory lane 16 times including the 2008 Daytona 500. His biggest impact he’s had in NASCAR racing is being very fast in qualifying trim. Newman earned the nickname “Rocketman” as he has 49 career Cup poles.
The 2002 Cup rookie of the year will look to join a full-time team for ’14. These will be his best options.
I wouldn’t rule out a return to Penske Racing for Newman. Penske brought Newman into NASCAR and he had some of his best years there. He won eight races and 11 poles for Penske in 2003 and finished in the top 10 in the points four consecutive years between 2002-2005.
With earning the biggest victory of his career with Penske in the Daytona 500 and Penske possibly being able to add a third car again, this could be a big time opportunity to close out his career there.
Newman, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano would be a very good three-car team.
Richard Childress Racing
Another option for Newman would be to basically swap rides with Harvick. The No. 29 Chevy ride is now open and could go to three drivers in my mind.
Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle, Newman and Austin Dillon would all be great fits for the vacant Harvick seat in 2014. RCR could go back to a four car team if they choose to bring up Dillon and hire either Busch or Newman. They’ve run four cars in select races the past few years and could honestly do so.
If RCR stays with only three cars though it may not be a good fit due to both Dillon brothers getting rides by the 2015 season. That’s two of the three cars with most of the attention going to those two.
Nevertheless, RCR would be a competitive option for Newman.
Michael Waltrip Racing
Mark Martin announced in May that he will not return to Michael Waltrip Racing in 2014. The No. 55 Toyota has been split between Martin and Brian Vickers the past few seasons and the early favorite to drive that car in 2014 was Vickers.
But with Newman becoming a free agent, MWR may want to bring him in to the No. 55 Toyota full-time in ’14. The organization has been very competitive the last few seasons with Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. making tons of noise and being race winners and championship contenders. Newman coming aboard could take them to the next level.
Furniture Row Racing
If Kurt Busch doesn’t return to FRR then Newman would be the logical replacement. Busch has his sights set on a bigger ride and with the way he’s running this year with the underfunded team I can see that happening. Busch has really turned him image around and his maturity is showing with tons of success on the track.
That means this ride is a favorable ride and a potential race winner. It could be attractive for Newman if the other three rides above don’t pan out.
There are rumors that Greg Biffle may end up with RCR. The Biff has been with Roush for over 15 years and he too is hinting about the merits of a change of scenery. Nothing has been confirmed that Biffle is leaving but with a driver like Newman sitting there if he does leave makes and interesting relationship.
It would be logical for Roush to bring up Trevor Bayne full-time but Bayne has struggled a bit in Nationwide competition this season. They wanted him to win championships like Ricky Stenhouse Jr. did the past two seasons in that very ride.
Skipping Bayne for another year in the Nationwide Series and replacing Biffle with Newman makes a lot of sense right now.
Eric Smith is the Lead Motorsports Writer for Race Review Online. Follow him on Twitter @ericsportsguru
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