The last thing Ryan Newman needed heading into unemployment was the kind of controversy that can make a car owner – or even more important a potential sponsor – think twice.
But that’s what happened last Sunday during the race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Newman was blamed for a three-car accident that also included Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth. Busch, who also is auditioning for future work, had led a race-best 102 laps before getting pinched into the third-turn wall.
At a time when both Busch and Newman are working on future plans, they left New Hampshire in an even deeper hole. And that triggered outrage by Kurt’s younger brother, Kyle Busch.
“But man just stupidity,” Kyle said during a post-race interview on ESPN. “I mean Ryan Newman is the biggest stupid idiot out here. And he’s a big ogre and he can do whatever he wants because he can probably kick anybody’s butt, so no sense in getting into a fight with him. But glad he is out of a job.”
Newman officially was told last week he was out at Stewart-Haas Racing next year. Kevin Harvick announced he would leave Richard Childress Racing and take Newman’s spot on the SHR roster.
Kurt Busch has a one-year deal with Furniture Row Racing. While that team has surprisingly been close to the top 10 in points this season, the 2004 series champion would like to upgrade of a top-level team.
A 31st-place finish – and a drop from ninth to 14th in the point standings – was the kind of setback Busch couldn’t afford.
Newman and Busch are in tough spots right now because there are not any top-tier rides open for next year. Both hoped a possible spot with Childress might open up, but he’s committed to promoting his grandson Austin before doing anything else.
At the same time, Newman and Busch know it’s important to remain loyal to their current teams. Any potential employer certainly wouldn’t like to see them give up with four months remaining in the season.
Newman has hopes there might be moves ahead that nobody expects, even with Childress.
Until his options run out, all he can do is race hard, make a good impression and avoid controversy.
He finished 39th at New Hampshire to fall back to 19th in the standings. If the playoffs started this weekend, neither Newman nor Busch would be in it. Getting a four-month notice didn’t help Newman, either.
“I can’t say that I’m happy with how everything unfolded,” Newman said.
Busch seems to be in a better spot to negotiate. He’s helped Furniture Row exceed all expectations this year, turning them from a middle of the road team to a legitimate contender. And if nothing else works out, it’s not a bad place to spend another year.