It’s not very often that a NASCAR superstar calls you on your cell, but Ryan Newman was gracious enough to spend a little time to talk racin’ a couple of weeks before he knew his fate in this year’s chase.
Newman was a week removed from winning the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis, a race near and dear to him because of his Indiana roots, born in nearby South Bend. It was finally starting to sink in with all of his family and friends texting and calling him. “Without a doubt, this was one of most special wins on the track (other than Daytona 500). Everything came together as far as the track, the location. It couldn’t have come at a better place with the pole and win. It was a special win to beat out the 48 car, which was running strong,” said Newman.
State Water Heaters served as an associate sponsor on Ryan Newman’s No. 39 Chevrolet SS at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Newman secured victory for the Quicken Loans and State sponsored Stewart-Haas Racing entry. “State Water Heaters is thrilled to congratulate Ryan Newman and everyone at SHR on the victory at the Brickyard,” said Jeff Storie, State Water Heaters senior marketing manager.
“Call it like it is. We appreciate the support and the financial commitment State Water Heaters has made to our team. In turn, we want to win races and lead laps so they can get better brand recognition,” said Newman. Other than Newman’s 2008 Daytona 500 win, this was the next biggest stage.
Ryan Newman started at the age of 4½ years old quarter midget racing in the Midwest. Newman’s father was instrumental in getting him started in the sport. “It was all about getting my hands on steering wheels and pushing pedals,” said Newman. Growing up in the sport, Newman credits surrounding himself with good people, family and friends for his on-track success. “As far as getting noticed, you have to have the drive and passion, and good resume on top of that,” said Newman.
Newman has an engineering degree from Purdue University, and when asked what he thought he would do if he wasn’t racing, “I think I would have pursued something in engineering. I have always been interested in the mechanical aspect of things.”
Nonetheless, I think this racing thing might work out after all. He especially enjoys high banking, intermediate and short tracks. “Some of my favorites are Darlington, Dover and Charlotte,” said Newman.
In 2002, Newman won a season-high six poles, and if that wasn’t impressive enough, in 2003 Newman won the pole position 11 times while winning eight races. One of the young guns on the circuit, Newman was appropriately nicknamed “Rocket-Man.” Ten years later, Newman is still racing strong, but with aging comes an evolving process. “We are all qualified drivers and we all have to progress over time — whether it is adapting to new tires, cars and tracks. You always have to keep learning.”
At the end of this year, Newman leaves Stewart-Haas racing, signing a new deal with Richard Childress Racing, replacing Jeff Burton in the 31 Chevrolet. Kevin Harvick joins Stewart as Newman’s replacement.
Newman spends his down time working with his wife on various charities. A relatively new charity, Rescue Ranch (www.rescueranch.com), is a non-profit animal welfare organization located in Statesville, NC. Rescue Ranch promotes and provides: humane education to enhance the human-animal bond; compassionate rescue; low-cost spay/neuter; and responsible adoption in an effort to end pet over-population and its associated suffering. Rescue Ranch will encompass the mission of the Ryan Newman Foundation and more. In addition to the mission of the Ryan Newman Foundation, Rescue Ranch will include humane education, a boarding facility, adoption center, dog park, veterinary clinic and riding trails to name a few.
Rescuing Animals and Children’s Education (R.A.C.E.) is not only a philosophy near and dear to the Newman’s, but it is also the name of a multiyear capital campaign being conducted to launch Rescue Ranch. The 87-acre facility located in Statesville, North Carolina, will be an animal/wildlife campus unlike any other in the area. The facility will house a Humane Education Building, an Adoption Center, a Boarding Facility, a Veterinary Clinic, an Equine Riding Arena, barns, pastures, riding trails and a dog park. There will be plenty of open space to explore nature’s beauty on the green acres of the campus located in Iredell County.
The first phase of the campaign is planned for completion in summer of 2013. This includes the entrance road onto campus and the Humane Education Building. This 8000 square foot building will house the Rescue Ranch humane education administrative offices, learning classrooms and meeting facilities. The heartbeat of the Ranch, this building’s main focus will be on teaching young minds about pet care, conservation, respect for the environment, and all things animal.
Chase in Doubt?
Putting himself in a great position to make this year’s chase, little did Newman know at the time the sequence of events that would toil with his emotions. Newman finished third at Richmond—the final race before the Chase—which found him tied in points with Martin Truex Jr., and because of a tiebreaker, Truex secured the final spot. That’s when the controversy started. Evidence from the race apparently showed that Truex’s teammates Clint Boyer and Brian Vickers tried to manipulate the outcome of the race: Boyer’s alleged intentional spin out and Vickers’ curious pit stop had Newman doubting the integrity of the sport.
Newman told reporters on a teleconference he was hurting emotionally and even physically after the disappointment of seeing a Chase spot taken away from him. “What happened to me on Saturday night is the toughest thing I’ve ever gone through in any kind of racing in my 30 years of driving because of the way everything went down.”
Upon further review NASCAR stepped in and made an unprecedented move. Truex was out, Newman back in. NASCAR deemed the penalty necessary because it reviewed radio communications between MWR general manager Ty Norris and driver Brian Vickers, in which Vickers was instructed to pit.
As of today, Newman sits 12th in the Chase standings.