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Ryan Newman: the future beckons more brightly this week, for him and crew chief Matt Borland

Ryan Newman: the future beckons more brightly this week, for him and crew chief Matt Borland

Ryan Newman, eyeing his future (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)



     By Mike Mulhern

     He's both new-school racer and old-school racer.
     Purdue, class of 2001, engineering.
     Thursday Night Thunder, dirt Sprint cars, Modifieds, Silver Crowns.
     And now a true Hoosier winning at Indy.
     A good story.
     A good Brickyard story, a good NASCAR story...
     Almost storybook: Fired two weeks ago. Crashed out at Loudon. Career in sudden turmoil.
     Now atop the racing world.
     But now, how will Ryan Newman parlay Sunday's feel-good victory in one of this sport's biggest races....into a new job?
     It really shouldn't take long, with a resume that includes a Daytona 500 win, a Brickyard 400 win, and 15 other NASCAR tour wins from Martinsville to Phoenix to Loudon.
     Almost surprising he wasn't dogged to victory by rival car owners with pen in hand, to get a guy the owner said he simply didn't have room for on the roster at the end of this season.

  Matt Borland: it's been a while since he was atop the pit box, and he concedes he's been a little rusty. But Sunday he was spot on (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

     Newman didn't get an easy ride to this level.
     There are no silver spoons in his toolbox, no sugar daddy sponsors.
     He got here it the old-fashioned way. He earned it.
     "I grew up racing around here, Winchester, Salem, IRP, little tracks like Anderson," Newman said a bit pensively.
    "That makes it special. 
    "Most people don't know I lived out in a shop in Jeff Gordon's old shop (in nearby Pittsboro) before I ever made it in NASCAR.  I slept with the race cars...in the shop with them. 
     "I've raced gokarts at pretty much every gokart track around here. Been kicked out of half of them. 
     "I think about those things more than I carry the emotion on my cheeks."

     Newman is quick with wit, and biting at times.
     But he rarely shows emotion.
     Engineers are typically like that.
     So, after winning Sunday's Brickyard 400, in something of an upset, considering his team's struggles this season, Newman was more pensive and reflective than bubbling with emotions.

    "I don't have emotions, you know that," Newman cracked.
    "I mean, I don't show a lot of emotion.  I think everybody knows that. 
    "I had the same emotion, the same thankfulness I did when I won the Daytona 500 (2008), because I feel everybody that has been a part of my racing career, from people that bought my racing uniform, bought me a right-rear tire, given us a credit card to get to some track, those are the people that helped me get where I am today.
      "Matt Borland... Don Miller -- who put Matt and me together for the first time back in 2000... people that have been instrumental in my career, for the littlest thing I'm thankful for.  That's what I'm thinking about."


   It's been a while since Ryan Newman got to do a good victory burnout, but he hasn't lost his touch (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

    The victory of course is a big boost to his current job hunting. Ford's Jack Roush has expressed an interest in hiring Newman. And there is considerable speculation naturally about what Ford's Roger Penske might be thinking; Newman got his NASCAR start with Penske.
   But there's more here. The win gives Newman a spot in next spring's All-Star race.
   More importantly perhaps it gives Newman and crew chief Borland a much better shot now at making this fall's playoffs.
   And it puts Borland himself back in the spotlight, with his career just as much up in the air as Newman's. Package deal, anyone?

   After winning one of this sport's biggest events, from the pole no less, what's Newman feeling?
   "I'm not sure at this point," Newman said slowly. "I know it's an amazing feeling. 
    "(But) I was more emotional Saturday after winning the pole than I was two laps after doing my doughnuts.  I'm not sure why.
    "I took an emotional hit Saturday."
   On the plus side.
   Two weeks at Loudon, N.H., after learning he would have to start job looking, things were down, really down.

   The toughest guy in NASCAR to pass. Sunday afternoon Jimmie Johnson never got close enough in the final laps to find out (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

    "The emotions have been an absolute rollercoaster," Newman says shaking his head.  "Loudon was a disaster.  We got crashed out...and everything that was said. 
    "We got through all that stuff. Then that weekend off was good timing, to hit 'control-alt-delete.'
   "This makes it better looking for something for 2014 also for Matt. 
    "There's a lot of questions to be answered.  We'll get through all that. 
    "Right now we're celebrating a victory.
     "We dealt with different emotions in Loudon.  We zeroed. We came here, proved we can come back, and fight back. 
    "We're not out of this chase, we're not out of this chance for a championship."

    Newman, who was schooled in NASCAR techniques by old-school Buddy Baker when breaking in, knows his sport's history.
    "I watched Jimmie during the race, and kept quiet," he said. "I wanted to see who I was racing.  Played the old (David) Pearson role.
    "Matt's call gave me the track position I needed, taking the two tires.  I was just counting down the laps from that point on."
   And Johnson was fuming in frustration. He'd dominated the race, but a slow pit stop late cost him the lead, and clean air here is so important.

    Newman's career somewhat mirrors Jeff Gordon's. Both got good early exposure when young and racing in minor leagues, with TV packages like Thursday Night Thunder.
   "(But) The USAC series doesn't have the national exposure that it had through television before," Newman laments.
   "They raced Silver Crown and midgets (Saturday) at IRP.  I think they had 17 Silver Crown cars and 14 midgets.  We used to have 60 Silver Crown cars and 35 or 40 midgets.  TV used to be there and it used to be a big deal.  Now it's a little line on the bottom of the TV as to who won.
    "You don't see a lot of racing on a short-track level any more on TV.  It's not there like it used to be. And it makes a difference for the younger drivers coming up.  There are kids winning Sprint car races that are really, really good. (But) They may never get seen, or get that opportunity."

   His mother was all over him to go to college and get a degree. It looks like she's still got his back (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

    His Purdue degree is one of Newman's calling cards. But it almost never was.
    "My parents literally pushed me out of the door and said 'Go to college.'
    "I didn't want to.  I will say it in front of everybody: I was tired of school, I wanted to go racing. 
     "I was winning races and having fun. 
    "They said 'No. Go get your engineering degree.'
    "Fortunately the pattern was there, from people like Alan Kulwicki and Mark Donohue and Matt."

    Borland was once billed by Ray Evernham as the future of NASCAR crew chiefs. And for a while Borland, when at Penske's with Newman, was making Evernham look right.
   But in this business fortunes ebb and flow, and Borland has made many headlines lately. 
    "It's hard to recapture that magic," Borland, a studious sort, says.  "It's probably been 2005 -- eight years -- since I've been to victory lane. 
    "You question all the things you're doing.  You think you're doing things the way you used to do them, but it doesn't work, and it doesn't work, and it doesn't work. 
    "This weekend it worked."
   And perhaps at just the perfect moment in Borland's career.
   Will Chevrolet executives let Newman and Borland go? Will Ford see the opportunity and strike?

   A great victory, for a witty Ryan Newman. Now about 2014..... (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   This is the second time around for Newman and Borland, and Borland concedes his crew chief touch has been rusty. The past several years he's been working on technical projects more than hustling through the tour's never-ending grind.
    "I realized all the things that I hadn't realized over the past several years of not being a crew chief," Borland, who got this job only late last fall, says.
   "We had to build a whole team of people...get people in place, figure out where people do their best work, where they don't do their best work, how to make all those people fit together.
    "That's definitely been a challenge all year. I wish I was more prepared.
    "There have been a lot of mistakes. I've learned from every one of them."
   And 2014 for Borland? "At this point I'm not sure what next year is going to bring. 
    "Right now my focus is on doing the best we can in these next six races, the next 16."


  And the now traditional kissing the Bricks (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Ryan and Matt

I think it's really in Penske's hands to lose. Here's a combo that's won races and poles for the organization with two manufacturers, Ford and Dodge. The darkhorse to steal Ryan and Matt away: Chip Ganassi. The thorn in Penske's side. Plus steal back Bass Pro from SHR with a natural outdoorsman like Newman. They'll have it all back. A three car team plus sponsorship and maybe introduce Bass Pro to Indy 500, something SHR can't do (unless they're already there, dunno?)

Newman: A racers racer!

If Ryan ends up being odd man out after all the silly season changes,It would be wrong on so many levels! I remember Ryan having a nasty accident in the 2003 Daytona 500 and standing in victory lane five years later! That shows what happens when you refuse to give up!I know he would get better results out of the #22 or #42 And represent the candy company better in the #18 and would be the missing link on getting Petty Motorsports into the chase!In the right car it would be 2003 all over again!

I'd love to see newman in the 43 for ford and

I'd love to see newman in the 43 for ford and petty.Brad as his cc and borland crewing the 9 with aric and ambrose to roush in the 17

Great Man

Best wishes to great racing man..:)

I love that Ryan won the 400 and think that Tony

I love that Ryan won the 400 and think that Tony made a big mistake choosing Kevin over Ryan to keep as a driver.

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Ryan Newman

Well I am trying to figure how it is possible that Ryan Won't have a ride at SHR next year, and Danica who will be lucky to finish in the top 30 will still be driving for SHR next year.
She will never be able to race like Ryan Newman.
Tony used to rant and rave about all the Big Time Wrestling type things that happen in NASCAR; now he is a willing participant in the dog and pony show. My problem is the dog and pony show isn't about racing, it's about money.
This just another reason why NASCAR is consistently losing fans. Real race fans can't now or ever accept such a ridiculous situation as what is happening at SHR.
But I guess people will do anything for money. Right, Tony.


Thanks for a great article!! It's good to see Newman back in the headlines.

A racers racer!

I love that Ryan won the 400 and think that Tony made a big mistake choosing Kevin over Ryan to keep as a driver.

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