Ryan Newman hopes Sunday afternoon at Phoenix Raceway does not end up being his final start in NASCAR Cup Series, but he acknowledges the possibility.
“I hope not,” Newman said. “I don’t know, but I hope not.”
Newman, 43, does not have a contract with Roush Fenway Racing for next season. Saturday, after qualifying 19th for the season finale, Newman admitted there aren’t any quality rides out there that he knows of or that he’s been called about to be made available.
A former Cup Series Rookie of the Year (2002) and Daytona 500 champion (2008), Newman has driven the No. 6 Ford at Roush for the past three seasons. In that period, he made the playoffs in 2019, which broke a drought for the No. 6 team dating back to 2006 while earning 21 top-10 finishes.
But next season, the car will be Brad Keselowski’s as he competes alongside Chris Buescher and the No. 17 team. Keselowski is also going to become a minority owner of the organization.
If Newman is going to continue racing, he wants it to be at the Cup Series level.
“(The) focus has always been on Cup,” Newman said. “I still view those series as minor leagues, and I consider myself a major. That’s a matter of opinion, but in the end, if I’m going to do it, take away time from my family, I want it to be for a Cup championship, and that’s the challenge in itself.”
Even so, Newman is not opposed to a part-time deal or a one-race situation. However, as long as the opportunity is a winning one since Newman believes he can still get the job done.
“I want to get back to victory lane,” Newman said.
Phoenix, the site of his first career start with Team Penske, will be Newman’s 725th career start. He has 18 career wins, and Newman’s most recent came at Phoenix in 2017 in his final season with Richard Childress Racing.
“It’s emotional, but it’s ironic, I guess, at the same time because I know my first start was here 21 years ago,” Newman said of the location. “To come back 21 years later and have my last contracted driving start means something. I don’t know that it means much, but I’m not announcing any kind of retirement or anything like that. I don’t have anything on paper for next year right now.”
If Sunday is the end, Newman plans on enjoying it. But he won’t walk away content with his career.
“Never content,” said Newman. “I’ve said this a million times, I’ve got way too many losses, and there’s no way of having as many wins to make up for those losses. So, therefore, I can never be content. I can be more, but never all the way content.”