Ryan Newman will bid farewell to Stewart-Haas Racing at the end of 2013.
As part of the Kevin Harvick move to SHR, team owner Tony Stewart confirmed Friday that Newman will not be involved with the organization next season. At this time, Stewart doesn’t believe it’s in the company’s best interest to field more than three cars. Along with Stewart, Danica Patrick joined SHR last season.
“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.”
Newman, 35, has been part of SHR since the company’s inception in 2009 and is 16th in this season’s points standings. Newman started his NASCAR career in 2000 with Penske Racing and has 16 career Sprint Cup wins — including three since joining SHR. He ranks third among active drivers for most pole awards with 49.
Newman isn’t sure what the ideal situation would be for him next season. Although he’s spent this season putting together a solid audition, Newman realizes he has some “homework to do” to figure out what seats might be available and best suited for him.
“To me, I first and foremost want to be wanted for my ability,” Newman said. “Ability behind the wheel as well as what I can do for the sponsors. That is the most important part. It’s not easy out there with the economy and what it takes to run one of these race teams financially. It’s not easy. Sponsorship is not at its peak in NASCAR.
“There are a lot of things to be considered, but I was sincere when I said I want to be someplace where I’m wanted. I want to be wanted for my abilities and the desires that we have as common goals to win a championship. Every driver out there wants to win a championship. Every driver out there wants to win races. It’s the desire that you have to fight through all the things I think that make and separate the men from the boys, I guess you could say.”
Newman has been mentioned as a possible 2014 candidate for Richard Childress Racing or Furniture Row Racing should Kurt Busch opt to drive for Richard Childress. Another scenario might include the team currently known as Phoenix Racing, as potential buyer Harry Scott purchases James Finch’s operation and adds a second team.
Although Newman’s contract with SHR ended last season, he earned a one-year reprieve as the organization ramped up for Harvick’s arrival next year.
Still, Stewart says he’ll continue to support Newman and believes in the driver of the No. 39 Chevy.
“Unfortunately, this will be the last year that we have Ryan with us,” Stewart said Friday. “That’s probably what’s made this a bittersweet day. I’m bringing in one of my friends to the organization knowing that I’m losing a friend at the end of the year.
“The number one thing when Ryan and I spoke was our friendship will not change. This was a business decision that was Gene’s (Haas) as well as mine. It was a hard decision. There’s a personal side, and there’s a business side, and for Ryan and I, we had to put the personal bit aside to work through the business part of it. But I’ll do everything I can to help Ryan moving forward to help his effort to find another team next year.”