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Beyond the Cockpit: Ryan Newman On Return to NASCAR

After a year away from NASCAR, 18-time NASCAR Cup Series winner Ryan Newman returned to the sport in 2023, running a part-time schedule between the Cup and NASCAR Xfinity Series.

During that time, Newman has competed largely for the more underfunded programs in Rick Ware Racing on the Cup Side and a recent one-off with MBM Motorsports in Xfinity.

At Homestead-Miami Speedway, where Newman made his return to Xfinity, Frontstretch’s Trenton Worsham spoke to Newman about his season to date.

Worsham: What led to coming back to race in NASCAR this year?

Newman: Circumstantial. Carl [Long, MBM Motorsports owner] approached me to do the Xfinity car; it was a former [Team] Penske car he was confident in. Roush Yates [Engines] put together an engine for me to come down here.

The Rick Ware Racing deal fell onto my plate because of what happened with Cody [Ware], it gave me the opportunity to pick some races to come and race. I wanted to do a short track because they made some safety gains with it, and Homestead is an awesome track. I don’t think anyone that’s here hates coming.

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Worsham: Justin Haley announced he’s going to Rick Ware Racing next season. Have you as a veteran been able to give feedback and help out the team in growing as it wants to this season in preparing for him?

Newman: I’m just living in the moment. Whatever happens next year with whatever rules they change, tires, just trying to be as competitive as we can be with the RFK [Racing] alliance, which has shown gains. Just here to have fun and gain as a driver on my performance as a racecar driver.

Worsham: You’re racing more this year than previously. Is this something you want to keep doing going forward, whether it be part time or even a small amount?

Newman: No, this is circumstantial and situational. I always said whatever my daughters [have] got going on is priority; these next three weekends they don’t. I’m aware I’m not in playoff-contending equipment, but getting information can benefit all of us.

Worsham: You did the Camping World SRX Series this summer and won the championship. What did it mean for you as a driver to win racing in a different car across some of the best in various disciplines?

Newman: My previous championship was in 1999. So 20-plus years later, trying to be a Cup champion, then beating guys who are Cup champions like Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte, put that feather in my cap. It was a lot of fun racing those races on short tracks and dirt. I always said if you don’t like that, you’re not a racer.

Worsham: How do you feel from the outside looking in that the SRX Series is looked at, bringing back some of the popular drivers from the 2000s and having that old NASCAR vibe back for a few weeks?

Newman: I think it’s gaining popularity. The fans enjoy the races, the racing product and having guys like Brad Keselowski who is still full time and a Cup champion. I’m definitely proud of that accomplishment and hope to do it again next year.

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Worsham: Aside from family, what are some things you enjoy doing away from the track?

Newman: I’ve got a bunch of animals: 65 black angus cows, 16 buffalo, some elk I’m raising. I bale the hay myself. The farm life is a lot of fun. I love the outdoors, hunting and fishing, things like that.

Worsham: You’re known as one of the toughest guys to pass. Is that something you take pride in?

Newman: Part of my job being a good racer is passing when I can and being hard to pass. You never hear about the guy that’s easy to pass. Ultimately, it’s a cool thing. I’d like it to be “he passes more cars than anyone else,” but if you’re the guy that’s hard to pass, that’s part of the equation.

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Marlou Watson

Being a Ryan Newman fan is an honor. Being from Salem, IN myself, my Dad owned a USAC race car for years. So before Ryan made many headlines, I was already a fan for life!

Fed Up

NA$CAR needs more RACERS like Newman. They think only “checkered flag” and not stage points or being a sponsor image.

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