Miracle Man: Ryan Newman is attending the Phoenix race weekend

AVONDALE, Ariz. – Ryan Newman wasn’t just happy to hang out at the race track on Friday morning.

“It’s a great to be alive,” Newman said. “After looking at my car, it’s a miracle. I’m just lucky.”

The walking miracle smiled and joked as he entered the Phoenix Raceway garage. He stopped and talked to NASCAR’s medical director, the one who was first to the scene after his devastating accident on the final lap on Feb. 17 in the Daytona 500.

In Newman dry humor fashion, he quipped: “Do I look OK?”

Newman didn’t want to talk at length Friday, but he made a few comments as he walked to the Roush Fenway Racing hauler. A veteran of the garage, his open nature didn’t let him just walk through with no comment.

He doesn’t have any timetable for his return after suffering a head injury in the accident, where Corey LaJoie slammed into Newman’s driver-side door when it was upside-down. Newman walked out of the hospital about 41 hours later.

“I feel fine,” Newman said Friday as he walked briskly through the garage. “I have no idea about anything [about returning to racing]. I’m here just spectating and to have some fun. … I’m just really here to support the [No.] 6 team and stay integrated with what I can do with the team and have some fun.”

Newman attended a Ford driver team building event on Thursday in Arizona and plans to spend the entire weekend at Phoenix. Everyone who has talked and seen Newman said Newman has not lost any of his personality.

“He is full Ryan Newman caliber and it is great to see,” said Ford driver Ryan Blaney. “It was cool to hear some of the process that he went through and some of the doctors that worked on him.

“They were very extensive with him and he has been passing everything with flying colors, which is unheard of and great to hear.”

The fact he could fly to Phoenix and be amid the hectic and loud garage is an encouraging sign. NASCAR rules would allow him to test before he returns, but there has been nothing said about when that could occur.

So for now, Newman is a supporting team member. And that nearly is as cool as watching him compete considering the scary accident.

“I get a chance now to watch not just the 6 but the 17 [of teammate Chris Buescher] and how they work and the teamwork that goes into that,” Newman said.

“That’s equally as important to me to have an opportunity to see them and watch them perform while I’m not in the car. I feel like I should be able to take advantage of this crazy opportunity.”

It certainly is crazy. Newman, as he said, knows he’s lucky.

But he’s also Newman, the race-car driver.

“I want to see Ross do well, but I’d rather be in Ross’ seat,” Newman said.