Grading 2014′s New Driver/ Team Pairings- Part 4


Ryan Newman’s 2013 season strikingly resembled a run of the mill day on the New York stock exchange. Newman’s stock was constantly on the rise, and fall for a majority of the 2013 NSCS campaign. Amazingly through all the chaos and confusion Ryan managed to savor the highest of high’s and survive the lowest of low’s 2013 had to offer.

Ryan’s future at SHR looked murky as of last November when reports circulated Tony Stewart would be welcoming Kevin Harvick into the fold for the 2014 season. Immediately following these reports Stewart would be bombarded with questions regarding Newman’s future with the organization. Despite Stewart’s reluctance to openly discuss the team’s immediate future it was evident Ryan Newman would play the role of odd man out once 2013 ended. Tony Stewart signed Newman to a one year deal following the 2012 campaign further solidifying his days with SHR were indeed numbered.

With an apparent lame duck season on the horizon Newman continued to forge ahead hoping for the best possible outcome in the end.
Newman started the 2013 season off on the right foot by finishing 5th in the season opening Daytona 500. Unfortunately Newman and the #39 team struggled to remain consistent for a majority of the 2013 season. Lackluster results combined with continual pressure from the media ultimately lead to SHR announcing in July that they would in fact be parting ways with the rocket man to make room for Kevin Harvick. Ironically Newman outperformed the boss and teammate Danica Patrick quite regularly throughout the season, however carrying the SHR banner proved not enough to keep Ryan among Smoke’s elite company. Stewart Haas Racing cited lack of sponsorship as the only reason they could not commit to operating a fourth car for 2014. This would later turn out to be contradictory as Gene Haas promised to break the bank in order to acquire Kurt Busch to run a 4th car for the organization in 2014. All this transpired even though current team sponsor Quicken Loans made their intentions known early on regarding renewal of sponsorship for Newman beyond 2013.

 

Although disappointed by SHR’s announcement, Newman vowed to race hard for his team until the bitter end, with the ultimate goal of qualifying for the chase. Newman would inch closer to achieving his goal of making the chase by winning the brickyard 400 in July, merely weeks after receiving his official release from SHR. Ryan’s emotional victory at Indianapolis could have not come at a most opportune hour. Undoubtedly rival team owners in the garage area were now thoroughly considering Newman as a viable option for 2014. Eventually Newman would wind up making the chase after surviving MWR’s widely publicized spin scandal at Richmond. Clint Bowyer’s costly maneuver allowed Newman to reclaim his rightful place in the chase some forty eight hours later.

As emphasized throughout this article Newman continued to grind out solid finishes for his soon to be former employer. Ryan’s never say die attitude, down the stretch would not go unnoticed as, Newman would receive a lucrative offer in the fall of 2013 to replace Jeff Burton as diver of Richard Childress’s #31 Chevrolets in 2014 NSCS competition.

 

Ryan Newman enjoyed a bit of career resurgence in 2013, hopefully he can carry some of his recent momentum with him to RCR. Childress’s hiring of Newman looks to be a wise decision on paper. In Newman RCR is getting a quality driver who still knows how to get the job on the track. If anything Newman can help improve the organizations qualifying woes. Since RCR has only one pole position to it’s credit in five years. Newman would also like to get the #31 car back into victory lane for the first time in five seasons. Ideally Newman’s role at RCR in 2014 will be that of veteran leader to Richard Childress’s grandson 2014 ROTY candidate Austin Dillon.

Welcoming a smart wheel man like Newman into the organization gives RCR that added leverage over some of the other teams in the garage looking to keep pace with mega powers Hendrick Motorsports & Joe Gibbs Racing. A few critics see RCR as a team in rebuilding mode with the departure of Kevin Harvick. This however may not be the case if Ryan Newman continues to perform at the same competitive level he did in the second half of the 2013 season.

Realistic goals for the Newman/RCR combination next season would be to win a few races and make the chase minus the drama.

Final grade B+

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Tags: Ryan Newman