Race Weekend Central

Friday Faceoff: Will Ryan Newman Be Competitive with RWR?

Ryan Newman’s first NASCAR Cup Series race with Rick Ware Racing is at Darlington Raceway. Will he be competitive or will RWR continue to struggle?

Andrew Stoddard: RWR will benefit greatly from having a successful and seasoned veteran like Ryan Newman behind the wheel. He will contribute his decades of experience to help RWR improve and get more out of its equipment. That said, even with Newman in the driver’s seat, RWR will continue to lag in the back half of the field. Newman has not raced since the end of the 2021 season, and his inexperience with the Next Gen car will show in the race’s early laps. Newman will do the best he can in an RWR Ford, finishing somewhere in the 20s at Darlington.

Taylor Kornhoff: RWR is at a considerable equipment deficiency, so Newman will not do much of note. That said, he will bring a lot more to the ride and outrun the equipment more than Cody Ware, JJ Yeley or Brennan Poole could ever dream of doing. Beyond that, he will make lapping him a chore. The car will without a doubt perform better.

Mike Neff: It is RWR, it is not a competitive team, at least for wins. Newman will get the most out of the car and will still be difficult to pass, but he isn’t winning the race.

What is your favorite NASCAR throwback paint scheme?

Luken Glover: My favorite throwback is simple yet still a beauty. That would be Chase Elliott‘s throwback honoring his dad with the fire engine red No. 9. While it is throwing back to Bill Elliott, Kasey Kahne ran some races with the same scheme when the Ram logo and stripes weren’t on the car. As a little boy, it was that scheme that got me into NASCAR simply because I loved the color red. Seeing that Evernham-styled flying 9 brings back some great memories. Behind that, my honorable mentions are William Byron‘s throwback to Jeff Gordon and Daniel Suarez‘s Quaker State throwback to Ricky Rudd.

Stoddard: When I first became a NASCAR fan in the early 2000s, one of the cars that stood out to me the most was that iconic Bill Elliott No. 9 Evernham Motorsports Dodge. It will be awesome to see Chase Elliott adorn his dad’s vintage red livery this weekend at Darlington. Kudos to Hendrick Motorsports for its attention to detail in this scheme, even getting the style of the car number right. Honorable mention to the throwback scheme on Aric Almirola’s No. 10 Ford honoring Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s noteworthy win in the 2001 Pepsi 400.

Neff: Being a huge IndyCar fan, I love Joey Logano‘s throwback to Mark Donohue. With that said my favorite is Corey LaJoie‘s homage to his grandfather. Always love when someone keeps it in the family but goes back more than one generation.

Wyatt Watson: The choices this year were astounding, but I’m going to give it to Ross Chastain’s No. 1 UPS/WWEX Chevrolet Camaro. Trackhouse Racing never fails to disappoint in the paint scheme department, but what it’s bringing to the table is some remarkable work. This will be the first time UPS will be on the car since June 2014 when Carl Edwards donned the package company at Kentucky Speedway. It’s fitting that UPS makes a comeback to NASCAR with Chastain while his rival Denny Hamlin sports the FedEx colors on the same weekend.

See also
Here Are the 2023 Darlington Throwback Schemes

Carl Edwards was the latest surprise analyst added to the FOX broadcast booth. Who else would you like to see as a guest broadcaster for FOX in 2023?

Kornhoff: I’m not necessarily thinking about who else I’d like to see in the booth. Instead, I only want to see more of Kurt Busch. He was funny, provided great analytical knowledge and he did it with prominent character. This was all while not being over-the-top and silly like Clint Bowyer or too regimented and soulless like Tony Stewart or Jeff Gordon. After what I’ve seen at Kansas Speedway and Circuit of the Americas, I’d take him over the dozens of personality-less drivers they could bring into the booth. The FOX booth is broken right now, and they’re using the alternating cast as a band-aid for an infection. Busch could very well be the antidote.

Stoddard: Edwards will be a rockstar in the FOX booth this Sunday. His knowledge and charisma should lead to meaningful contributions to the broadcast and hopefully another broadcast appearance in the future. As for who else to put alongside Mike Joy and Bowyer this season, it would be nice to see FOX rotate in some former crew chiefs to add some insight from that perspective. A couple of names that come to mind are Todd Gordon, the 2018 Cup champion with Logano, and Greg Zipadelli, the crew chief behind Stewart’s two Cup titles with Joe Gibbs Racing. Bringing in crew chiefs to the booth could help create a play-by-play, driver, and crew chief dynamic similar to the broadcast team of FOX’s early days with Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds.

Watson: I would absolutely love it if FOX brought Jamie McMurray back to the booth. In fact, I wish it could have him be there with Joy and Bowyer. McMurray was very talented when he was called to the booth last year and should absolutely get another chance to call another race before the year is up. With Kevin Harvick retiring and already signed on for next year, it seems like a longshot for him to receive a full-time opportunity to call races, but if there’s anyone ready to take their expertise to the booth full-time, it’s McMurray for sure.

Glover: Speaking of Newman and Kahne, I’d like to see both in the booth at some point. Newman’s engineering background would provide some great insight and it would be nice to see Kahne back on the NASCAR front again. One driver who could be a great fit is Greg Biffle. Biffle would certainly bring some knowledge to the booth, as well as his personality that got him a large fanbase.

Haas F1 team principal Guenther Steiner said, “When looking at the ratings, NASCAR is still number one at the moment, but IndyCar is falling behind. If we continue to do a good job, F1 can become the dominant motorsport discipline in the United States.” Do you agree?

Neff: There is no question that Formula 1 is a hit with the younger generation fans. There are F1 clothing lines popping up in trendy clothing retailers who never paid attention to motorsports before. That said, there still needs to be a good product in the track. F1 is still struggling to put a product on the track where multiple cars can pass for the lead throughout the race. Until that happens, it has an uphill climb to unseat NASCAR.

Glover: It isn’t 100% impossible, but it is highly unlikely. There is a notion that F1 not having an American driver in nearly a decade (until Logan Sargeant competed at Miami) doesn’t affect how Americans like F1. That is true to an extent, but it does stunt the growth that they can reach. NASCAR is almost purely domestic, and even though household names and brand recognition have dwindled, there is still an avid following in the U.S. Even with the demo for F1 beating NASCAR in races occasionally, a great race in viewership for F1 is either average or low for a NASCAR audience. NASCAR has been through challenging times over the past decade, but a few key changes could have it back to where it needs to be. Overall, however, NASCAR still provides thrilling action with beating and banging. NASCAR fans and many American motorsports fans, in general, get frustrated at strung-out fields with little passing. That still defines the racing in F1, and that is where NASCAR wins. For more arguments for both sides, check out Frontstretch’s Michael Finley and I debate in last year’s 2-Headed Monster.

Watson: No. NASCAR beat F1 head-to-head last week pretty decisively, and the racing product was thoroughly enjoyed by most of the fanbase compared to a pretty dull Miami GP this weekend. F1 has the edge in its documentary series and appeal to more well-to-do fans, but having the average ticket price for the Miami GP above $2,000 and a $250 salad trending as a meme isn’t exactly appealing to a typical crowd. In contrast, I can go to Martinsville Speedway for around $70 and enjoy a couple of $2 Martinsville dogs. I believe NASCAR will continue to be the most dominant American motorsport for the foreseeable future.

Kornhoff: I don’t think it will happen, but it could. F1 has superior marketing despite the racing product being absolute trash for the most part. It’s not that the majority of new fans watch racing for the racing at first, they watch it because they were shown by a friend or because they know it’s what’s in and it’s a fun thing. But after being drawn in, it’s the racing that’ll hook them. That’s why I don’t think it will happen. Americans are spoiled by great racing product like NASCAR and IndyCar, and if NASCAR continues to lean toward removing stage cautions and actually discusses removing overtime, more and more people will be able to get into it over F1. If NASCAR makes strides to retain its existing fanbase and make them happy, then more of that fanbase will encourage their friends and relatives to watch and enjoy racing. The same goes for IndyCar. If all of this becomes a reality, they market themselves better, and the next NASCAR TV deal goes well, then that dream of F1 being number one in the USA will be dead in the water. NASCAR has shown an ability to be trendy in the past, and it can be again. That’s wishful thinking, certainly, but even without all of that, F1 still has a steep hill to climb. The only thing that helps it out is the fact that F1 has the key age demographic while a portion of NASCAR and IndyCar fans are literally dying.

About the author

What is it that Mike Neff doesn’t do? The writer, radio contributor and racetrack announcer coordinates the site’s local short track coverage, hitting up Saturday Night Specials across the country while tracking the sport’s future racing stars. The writer for our signature Cup post-race column, Thinkin’ Out Loud (Mondays) also sits down with Cup crew chiefs to talk shop every Friday with Tech Talk. Mike announces several shows each year for the Good Guys Rod and Custom Association. He also pops up everywhere from PRN Pit Reporters and the Press Box with Alan Smothers to SIRIUS XM Radio. He has announced at tracks all over the Southeast, starting at Millbridge Speedway. He's also announced at East Lincoln Speedway, Concord Speedway, Tri-County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Luken Glover joined the Frontstretch team in 2020 as a contributor, furthering a love for racing that traces back to his earliest memories. Glover inherited his passion for racing from his grandfather, who used to help former NASCAR team owner Junie Donlavey in his Richmond, Va. garage. A 2023 graduate from the University of the Cumberlands, Glover is the author of "The Underdog House," contributes to commentary pieces, and does occasional at-track reporting. Additionally, Glover enjoys working in ministry, coaching basketball, playing sports, and karting.

Andrew Stoddard joined Frontstretch in May of 2022 as an iRacing contributor. He is a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College, the University of Richmond, and VCU. He has a new day job as an athletic communications specialist at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va.

Wyatt Watson has been an avid fan of NASCAR since 2007 at the age of 8. He joined Frontstretch in February 2023 after serving in the United States Navy for five years as an Electronic Technician Navigation working on submarines. Wyatt writes breaking NASCAR news and contributes to columns such as Friday Faceoff and 2-Headed Monster. Wyatt also contributes to Frontstretch's social media and serves as an at-track reporter.

Wyatt Watson can be found on Twitter @WyattGametime

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Daytona-520

Nice to see someone else acknowledge how great McMurray is in the booth.

janice

i really like ryan newman. however, i don’t think he’s had any, if all, seat time in this horror of car. be interesting to see what he says. i read something earlier this week that he will not be a crash test dummy for the car, he already thinks it’s unsafe.

it will be a joy to hear the booth talking about people trying to pass him. it’s a good marketing ploy for rwr, ryan will bring positive crowd noise to driver intros.

yes jamie mac should be in fox booth. i honestly don’t want to have crew chief in as they’d get knaus or evernham. what about andy petree?

kb

I get what you’re saying but the bias is just too strong with many of them. The good ones are there, but you have to pay attention to their commentary. I watch certain ones, the other ones are loyal shills for their alma mater! And those who are still culling a paycheck from an organization, out of the race car.

DoninAjax

The one thing that can be said for the NA$CAR product with the 36 event dates is that it stays in the spotlight just about every weeknd even though it gets more attention than it deserves because of the decisions it makes the rest of the week.

kb

Ugh, this clown is back. One race is too many. Oh, the things to say about this guy, imo. UGH.

Dav_Daddy

F1 surpass NASCAR in America? Not likely. Most Americans don’t realize those weren’t IndyCars in Miami.

As for the Fox booth? Heck I don’t know, but if they come across somebody good maybe they could replace Bowyer next year? It’s not that I’m sick of him (yet.) But I can feel him starting to grade on my nerves.

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