Ryan Newman is not ready to retire while Matt Kenseth has no interest in again being full-time in the Cup Series. That combination of factors has led Roush Fenway Racing to slot Newman in its No. 6 Ford, beginning next season.
The announcement was officially made Saturday afternoon at Richmond Raceway. Newman will compete full-time for the company in 2019, and team owner Jack Roush stated it would be for a “number of years” going forward.
“I look forward to the opportunity of driving with the ultimate goal of winning,” said Newman. “I’m in a position where I’ve never wanted to stop, never wanted to quit, never wanted to retire, and want to win a championship. So, I look forward to this opportunity. Obviously, finishing out this year as strong as we both can in our respective positions, but at the same time, with enthusiasm for the Daytona 500 in 2019.”
Said Roush, “Ryan Newman has been one of the most fierce drivers we’ve faced on the racetrack … he has demonstrated himself to be of good values. One of the things that drivers have to have is a code that makes sense to other drivers, and whenever you raced Mark (Martin) you knew what to expect, whenever you raced Matt you knew what to expect, and whenever you race Ryan you know what to expect there as well.
“I look forward to that working in our favor as it’s worked to our negative side on a few occasions over the years. But, never had a quarrel with Ryan — we’ve always respected what he did and respected where he was coming from. And the fact that he’s got an engineering degree makes him more valuable to me as a driver than he might be without that with his fierce competitive history.”
Although Roush Fenway Racing was approached by a number of drivers, Newman got the nod over a younger driver because the company wanted someone who could come in and perform immediately. With his engineering background and previous experience competing for several different manufacturers, Newman also stood out.
Roush Fenway will continue to operate two cars next season with Newman joining Ricky Stenhouse Jr (pictured at left, above, with Newman).
Kenseth was brought back in the spring as the organization looked for ways to help improve its overall performance. To do so, Kenseth began splitting time with Trevor Bayne, who will also not return to RFR next season. During his opening remarks, Roush praised Bayne for being one of the “finest individuals” he has ever known on and off the racetrack.
Both Roush and Newmark praised Kenseth for providing feedback in diagnosing the cars and direction of what they should be doing.
“If you ask Matt how it went, in his kind of self-deprecating nature he’d probably say he hasn’t helped but from our perspective, he’s been invaluable,” said Newmark. “We went into that relationship with the intent that the primary focus was on 2018 and we always had back of mind that we’ll see how it plays out for 2019, and we had some intent with where that would go. But we always kind of left the arrangement with Matt that he would come back and sit down in late August early September and have a dialogue of what the future looks like. That’s the way it played out.”
Kenseth told to the organization that at age 46, with young children at home and the amount of time already spent on the road, he was not prepared to be full-time in the series. Newmark said Kenseth, a full-time Cup Series driver from 2000-17, owed it to his family.
Newman will vacate the No. 31 Chevrolet at Richard Childress Racing after five seasons. The veteran has 18 career wins and is returning to the Ford family, having competed for the manufacturer with Roger Penske during his rookie season in 2002.
“Ford has proven this year, if you look at the results, to have the right people in the right places to be successful, and the win column says that,” said Newman.
Asked what makes him feel he could be a part of the answer to the Roush struggles, Newman said, “Teamwork. Putting the right people in place. They’re willing to listen and make the right decisions collectively, and everybody puts that effort forward it’s just a matter of how well you do it.”
Sponsorship for Newman and the No. 6 team was not announced. Newmark said Saturday’s announcement was focused on the driver and talks will occur about possible partners in the coming weeks.