Ready to lead? Newman in new role with move to RCR

Ryan Newman has spent the last five seasons at Stewart-Haas Racing.

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The year 2014 will mark the start of a new era at Richard Childress Racing. Kevin Harvick, who was forced to take over as we all so sadly remember back in February 2001, is gone. Jeff Burton is gone. Richard has added Ryan Newman to the fold. He is also moving his grandson, Austin Dillon, up to the NASCAR Sprint Cup series in 2014.

This is one of those moments in time when Richard is going to have to once again rely on his leadership and experience to guide him next season. That’s not a knock on Ryan by any stretch of the imagination. If you look, however, who Ryan has driven for, he’s never been asked to be the leader of the team. Next year he is being asked to do that very thing.

The best way for Ryan to show his leadership capabilities and be the No. 1 driver of the organization is to utilize the depth of experience that his car owner has. I realize that Paul Menard has seniority over at RCR now since he’s been there the longest, but the reality is that Ryan is the guy who has won more races and should be an immediate contender in the Chase.

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Everyone knows the future of the organization is Austin Dillon. The best way to bring him along to the level everyone is hoping he can reach is through strong leadership from his grandfather and through Ryan, in my book. Richard is also going to have a strong hand in the guidance of the Nationwide Series program as well as his other grandson, Ty Dillon, moves up to that series.

It’s such a huge jump from the Nationwide Series to the Sprint Cup level, and not everyone has been successful at it. I believe Austin will be one of those who can transition over. He already has some experience in a Sprint Cup car when he drove for James Finch in the No. 51, and for Tony Stewart in the No. 14. That’s a huge plus for him going into 2014.

He’s going to have great cars and great motors. So, it’s all up to him. Running competitively is one thing. Winning races on the Sprint Cup level is a whole new ballgame. He needs to get in that Cup car and show he can be competitive and get this first year under his belt. From that point, he needs to learn how to win. With the right leadership and guidance, all of it is possible for Austin Dillon.