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Is Stewart Haas Racing the best place for Newman?

By admin | July 20, 2008

By Richard Allen


During the weekend in Chicago Ryan Newman said he had as many as four options available to him. Well, now he has three. He and Penske Racing South will end their nine year relationship at the end of the 2008 season.

Actually, based on a poorly kept secret around the NASCAR Sprint Cup garage, Newman really has one option. Or rather, his decision seems to have been made, and that is to drive for the newly formed Stewart Haas Racing team.

A few days ago I wrote that I believed Tony Stewart was doing the right thing by leaving his long time team, Joe Gibbs Racing, and becoming a part owner in this new team. However, that analysis was based on more than just driving. It was based on the business opportunity available to Stewart.

On the other hand, Newman does not have such a business opportunity, or at least it does not seem so. He needs to decide based solely on driving and whether or not his new team offers him an opportunity to win, soon. At this point in his career joining a team in the process of building may not be the best spot for such an established star.

Newman has won 13 races, 43 poles and the 2008 Daytona 500. He brings with him the credentials to get into a top notch ride.

The South Bend, Indiana native will have turned 31 years old by the beginning of the 2009 season. At this point in his career, Newman has to consider that he should be entering his prime years as a driver. It is at this age when many drivers have scored big wins and championships during their careers.

It would seem as though Newman would attempt to land himself in an established ride capable of race wins and titles immediately.

Apparently, he felt as though he had run his course at Penske South. He had made the statement just a few short weeks ago that he was going to see whether or not the performance of his team would improve before he decided to re-sign with them. Then, without really allowing for much of a turn around in the #12 team, rumors began to fly that his signing with Stewart was a ‘done deal’.

The thing I do not understand is the timing. Just barely past halfway through the season, it would have seemed as though a driver of Newman’s caliber could have waited for a few more weeks.

We know the #5 car for Hendrick Motorsports had been available. Perhaps Newman did attempt to work his way in there but was unable to come to an agreement.

We know the Richard Childress Racing team is looking for a driver for its already sponsored 4th car. Perhaps Newman did not get the vibe he was looking for from RCR.

And biggest of all, the #20 car for Joe Gibbs Racing is available. Perhaps Newman got the feeling that young Joey Logano is a ‘done deal’ for that ride.

It is possible Newman did try to get into one of these more established rides and was unable to make it happen for one reason or another. However, drivers with Newman’s credentials do not come along that often and it would seem as though owners would find a place for him on one of the more proven teams.

I believe Tony Stewart’s joining Haas/CNC Racing will produce immediate improvement but this is a team with a very long way to go. It would be difficult to imagine that Stewart Haas Racing will be a contender for a title instantly. Maybe Ryan Newman will be racing for a championship in 2009, but maybe, he will be spending the prime years of his career waiting for his team to catch up to him.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

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5 Responses to “Is Stewart Haas Racing the best place for Newman?”

  1. Jake Hollywood Says:
    July 20th, 2008 at 11:42 pm

    I’ve said this elsewhere, so I’ll say it here, too. Stewart will do something unusual for him in 2009: he’ll will one of the first ten races (maybe even the Daytona 500); win another race later in the season; and, he’ll squeak into the 2009 Chase.

    Newman (if he actually takes the 2nd Stewart-Hass ride) will struggle initially–he’ll qualify, not miss any races, well enough, but won’t win until really late in the season, if at all. And he won’t make the Chase in 2009.

    2010 will be a Stewart-Hass year, they’ll win 6 or 7 races and both cars will make the Chase.

  2. Chris R Says:
    July 21st, 2008 at 1:43 am

    I personally think that Tony should hire Mayfield if he isn’t able to get Newman. Mayfield is an extremely talented race car driver, who, like Tony, tends to speak his mind, even if nobody else wants to hear it. Tony is also very probably the only owner who can keep Mayfield focused on the task of driving the race cars, and can teach Jeremy some lessons on when to run his mouth so it won’t get him into so much trouble. If Tony can get the right people on board to make sure that the teams cars are every bit as fast as what the Hendrick teams have, then Mayfield won’t have to complain about not being competitive. In fact, this might end up as one of the rowdiest and most outspoken teams in the garage. A stark contrast to the squeaky clean image that the Hendrick people like their drivers to portray.

  3. ray Says:
    July 21st, 2008 at 10:43 am

    Chris, no one will hire mayfield he,s blackballed hisself, he’s burnt way too many bridges. He is now the Barry Bonds of NASCAR

  4. Richard Racehorse McQuiston Says:
    July 21st, 2008 at 11:58 am

    It’s a given that Stewart-Haas will have the best equipment available to any team - - Hendrick motors and chassis and a brand new state-of-the-art garage. Tony has proven he can attract the best in NASCAR. I refer to Ryan Newman here.

    So now all he has to do is fill in with other top-drawer personnel. As time goes on, we will be stunned at top talent that abandons other organizations to jump on the Stewart bandwagon.

    When that happens, you have all the ingredients to come out of the chute as a championship caliber team. If not, I’d like for some brilliant (more brilliant than our writer, anyhow) analyst to tell me why.

    Kyle Busch came to a new team (not a Chase Contendor), a new organization and new brand of car. He is killing the field. There’s no practical reason Smoke can’t make the same thing happen with Stewart-Haas.

    Particularly, given the likely fact that Big Brother France will level the playing field by taking the extra horsepower out of Toyota mills.

    When that happens, there’s no practical reason Smoke and Newman won’t run consistently at least as well as Jeff Gordon and Jimmy Johnson.

    Smoke will have the right stuff. You can quote me on that.

  5. Bill Says:
    July 22nd, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    How about Newman to Michael Waltrip as the UPS spokesman