NASCAR Richmond 2013: Ryan Newman coy about future, focused on Chase
With Kevin Harvick's impending arrival -- and without the capacity to expand to four cars -- it came as no surprise when Tony Stewart announced in July that Ryan Newman would not be returning to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014.
SHR unexpectedly signed Kurt Busch last week, however, and forged ahead with plans to add a fourth team for next season. This gave the appearance to some that Stewart had misled his good friend, but Newman disputes that notion.
"I don't think there were any hidden agendas on Tony's behalf. I had a good relationship with him and been up front with him."
When Stewart met with the media Tuesday for the first time following his Aug. 5 accident that broke his right leg, he laid out the timeline of events that concluded with SHR adding another team and Newman having to find a new ride.
As Stewart explained, SHR co-owner Gene Hass was responsible for signing Busch and took it upon himself to do so -- even agreeing to self-sponsor the new team that was to be formed. And while Stewart was initially reluctant to expand due to logistics, Stewart was not in a position to object because his partner "holds the checkbook."
No matter how the events unfolded, though, the end result is the same as Newman is forced to find a different team for 2014.
Nothing has been confirmed, but it is believed Newman has signed -- or is close to signing -- with Richard Childress Racing. He would not elaborate whether the reports of him joining RCR are true, however, only saying he was close to announcing something "shortly."
"I spent some time this week working on next year, which I can't really talk anything about," Newman said. "It's just not the right time."
The questions about whether he was lied to and the ambiguity about his future plans comes at an unwelcome time for Newman as he attempts to secure a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
With one race remaining before the playoff field is set, Newman is ranked 14th and trails 10th-place Kurt Busch by 20 points. He's five points in arrears of Martin Truex Jr. for the second and final wild card slot available.
"I think, no matter what, trying to figure out anybody's future is somewhat of a distraction," Newman said. "When it compares to living in the present, trying to figure out and perform like we need to perform for the Chase. I think it takes a pretty good mind to separate all those things.
"They say the more challenging it is, the more rewarding it is, so ... ."
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