Ryan Newman joked on Tuesday that Tony Stewart had called and offered him a ride in one of the Sprint cars that Stewart owns.
As for the speculation surrounding Newman’s possible move to the Stewart co-owned Stewart-Haas Racing next season in the Sprint Cup Series, Newman revealed little.
“I still have choices and I’m getting closer to making that choice and making that decision but I have no answers yet,” Newman said during a conference call with reporters.
The Sound Bend, Ind., native did shed some light on the impetus behind his decision to leave Penske Racing at the end of the year after eight full Cup seasons with the organization.
“For me personally at Penske Racing, I’ve achieved a lot of things,” said Newman, whose plans to leave the company were made public last week. “I’ve been close to a championship. We were sixth two years in a row, we made the Chase for a couple years and for the last couple years we didn’t and that was tough from a performance standpoint.
"We have had good runs, we’ve had good cars at times but consistency hasn’t always been there. The bottom line was [team owner] Roger [Penske] and I decided to just move on and do different things.”
Newman said that the Penske operation as a whole isn’t as strong as it has been in previous seasons such as 2003 when Newman won eight races and 14 poles in his No. 12 car.
Since opening the season with a 1-2 finish in the Daytona 500, all three Penske teams have struggled. Its drivers – Newman, Kurt Busch and rookie Sam Hornish Jr. – are 16th, 18th and 33rd, respectively, in the series points standings.
Newman has just two top-five finishes in 19 races and is 189 points outside the 12th and final spot in the Chase For The NASCAR Sprint Cup with seven races left before the championship-determining field is set.
The drop-off in performance seems to have played a key role in Newman’s decision to go elsewhere.
“We have been dominant - we just aren’t dominant right now,” the 2008 Daytona 500 champion said. “That cycles. Maybe it’ll cycle again for Penske Racing or maybe it’ll cycle for a new team. You just never know.”
Newman does have a theory on the factors that cause a team’s performance to cycle in certain directions.
"[Roger has said], ‘Effort equals results,'” Newman said. “If you’re not getting the results then, you know, you question the effort.”
Until his plans for next season are made known, questions will continue to linger about Newman’s future. Earlier on Tuesday, Stewart said there is more than one driver in the running for the second Stewart-Haas entry in 2009. Stewart, who recently announced he would leave Joe Gibbs Racing at season’s end to become a co-owner at Stewart-Haas, will drive one of the team’s cars.
The timing of Newman’s revelation that he would leave Penske came less than a week after Stewart announced he was buying into Haas CNC - which will be absorbed into Stewart-Haas Racing in 2009 - and fueled speculation that Newman would become Stewart’s driver and teammate next season.
Such speculation is premature, however, Newman said.
“For me, I don’t know the answer yet what it is or where it’s going to be,” Newman said. “But I’m entirely dedicated to doing what I’m doing here throughout the rest of the season for my sponsors and for myself more importantly to just go out and have fun but try to win races.”
Newman said he is carefully seeking the counsel of several people, including wife, Krissie, on the best move for his career.
“You have to rely on yourself most importantly but obviously [also on] the people and friends around you,” he said “ … There are people that I go to and talk to about it. Obviously meetings are important, talking to people, figuring out what the best opportunity is from a performance standpoint, from a financial standpoint – that doesn’t matter so much to me but it does. It takes time [and] it takes effort.
"It does take away from what I do on a day-to-day basis. Whether it's spending time with the guys here at the shop [or] going out to lunch with [crew chief] Roy [McCauley], it takes away, but it’s part of my career.”
As for a timeline for making his decision, Newman said he is trying to let things take their natural course.
“Maybe it’s like being in high school and having a bunch of girls and if you get an opportunity to date one or the other," Newman said. "And you don’t know the timeline of how everything’s going to go; you don’t know when you’re going to get a date. It just happens. Maybe on a Friday night you go out and think, 'Maybe, that’s how things are going to work out for me.'
"It’s just going to take some time for things to mesh. From a people standpoint, it’s just like chemistry. It just happens.” - scenedaily.com