NASCAR driver Ryan Newman isn’t holding back his thoughts regarding why he is finished racing, and it all has to do with safety.
“I don’t think the (Cup) car is as safe as it should be or as safe as they say it is on the big tracks,” said Newman. “I don’t need to be a crash test dummy. I’ve already got two bars named after me. I don’t need a third.”
Fans probably understand Newman’s hesitancy, since three years ago he was involved in a terrifying crash at at the Daytona 500 in 2020.
Going back more than a decade, Newman was involved in another multi-car crash in 2009 at Talladega which ended up with the creation of a new bar, known as the Newman bar, being added as a secondary cage bar covering the driver’s forehead in the vehicle.
During that horrific crash, Newman’s car literally went flying through the air after getting hit from behind, resulting in him crashing into the hood of fellow driver Kevin Harvick’s car. It was so bad, once the dust settled, emergency crew had to cut off the roof of the car to get him out, since the roll cage collapsed and prevented him from being able to escape.
Fast forward to 2020, Newman was close to securing a second victory at Daytona when he was bumped, his car flipped violently sideways, hit a wall, and caused another driver’s car to slam onto his roof. Thanks to that crash, NASCAR added two extra roll bar support pieces around the roof.
Since then, Newman has primarily stuck to short tracks due to the slower speeds, avoiding the longer tracks he’d need to in order to qualify to drive for the NASCAR All-Star Open at North Wilkesboro speedway later in May.
Those longer tracks include the Goodyear 400 in Darlington, since he didn’t race during the 2021 season.
“I told them I was only going to do this if we can have fun,” said Newman. “If it isn’t fun it’s not worth me doing. Somebody else can do it. I don’t think they feel the same way.
“I know I’m not jumping into a Hendrick car. I know I’m not jumping into a JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) car. But ultimately, with the way the rules are there’s no reason that it can’t be a competitive or somewhat competitive car. From what I understand, the pit stops, the pit crew, is a little bit of a concern. I’m not trying to single them out, but with the way the rules are with the car, I think more emphasis gets put on the potential of your pit crew than the potential of a nut-and-bolt kit that NASCAR gives you.
“So, with that in mind, it’s just a matter of putting everything together. I’m hoping I can bring some energy to their team, their pit crew, their everything to make them step up their game. In saying that, I’m hoping I’m not the one that’s the weak link.”
Newman, now 45-years-old, has spent more of his time racing Modifieds when he’s not at his farm or supporting his daughter Brooklyn who now races stock cars. He stated he doesn’t feel comfortable with the current Cup car since he hasn’t stepped inside to test it out.
“The biggest adjustment I’ll have to make is the fact that guys are shifting per lap and the shifting mechanism itself. Outside of that it’s a steering wheel and pedals.”
Newman and RWR began conversations last month after he began speaking to the team’s competition director Tommy Baldwin regarding a Modified race going on in New York. During the talks, Baldwin proposed the idea to Newman to come and drive for the team at Martinsville.
The opportunity came up after driver Codey Ware was suspended indefinitely from competing in NASCAR after assault charges in North Carolina against him surfaced.