Mum on 2014 plans, Newman sets sights on making Chase

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With all of the recent Silly Season movement involving the likes of Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson, A.J. Allmendinger and Jeff Burton, it would appear that the spotlight is now shining on Ryan Newman, who is leaving Stewart-Haas Racing at the end of 2013.

Newman has been tipped by some for a possible jump to Richard Childress Racing next year, and with Burton announcing his departure from RCR this week, that rumor will only intensify.

Of course, let’s not forget that Busch’s soon-to-be-old ride, the No. 78 at Furniture Row Racing, also needs a new driver for 2014.

But as he looks toward his final chance to make this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup this weekend at Richmond International Raceway, Newman has kept quiet about his future plans. He mentioned Thursday that he had “spent some time this week working on next year” – but didn’t reveal much else.

“It’s not that I’m not allowed [to say anything],” Newman said. “It’s just not the right time.”

An understandable stance from Newman, considering that he’ll be battling for a Chase berth in tomorrow’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at RIR. The Brickyard 400 winner finds himself five points behind Martin Truex, Jr. for the final Wild Card spot.

“I think no matter what, trying to figure out anybody’s future is somewhat of a distraction when it compares to living in the present – trying to figure out and perform like we need to perform for the Chase,” Newman said.

With him and nine other drivers gunning for five remaining Chase spots tomorrow night, the atmosphere will definitely be tense.

Many scenarios can and likely will play out over the course of 400 laps, and for Newman – who can clinch a Wild Card with a win – it may all come down to putting the chrome horn to somebody in order to get that critical victory that vaults him into the playoffs.

But would he do such a thing? That depends.

“Everything is a situation,” he said Thursday. “If that guy roughs you up to get to where you are, maybe. If that person is the one that caused you mischief earlier in the season, maybe. If that person is somebody you extremely respect, know they wouldn’t do that to you, maybe not. It’s so situational.”

IndyCar: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports expands mentoring program for tech school students

Photos: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
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IndyCar team Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced today that it is extending and widening a unique sponsorship and mentoring program that began last season with students from Lincoln Technical Institute.

The program began last year, with students from several Lincoln Tech branches attending select IndyCar events for an entire weekend.

The students, primarily from auto and diesel training programs, got an insiders experience with the team, taking part in team meetings, watching team workers prepare and service the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda of driver James Hinchcliffe, sat on pit boxes during practices, qualifying and, of course races.

The overall experience was to get students more interested and involved in potential careers in the IndyCar field.

“We said at the beginning of last season that we knew our students would benefit and learn from the professionalism and drive of the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team,” Lincoln Tech President and CEO Scott Shaw said. “But the experience they received working with the entire pit crew team and in particular crew member Cole Jagger – a Lincoln Tech graduate himself – went beyond even our own expectations.

“We were grateful for the time they spent mentoring our students, and we are thrilled to once again be part of the racing legacy of team owners Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson.”

Lincoln Tech will once again serve as an associate sponsor on Hinchcliffe’s car for the entire 2018 IndyCar season. In addition, it is expanding its Mentor Program to select students to attend a minimum of nine IndyCar races from six last season.

Students are selected based upon their grade point average, attendance, conduct and overall commitment to becoming outstanding automotive technicians. An interest in IndyCar and a desire to work in the industry is also considered.

One student that took part last season, Tyler Crist of Lincoln Tech’s Denver campus, joined the team at the IndyCar race in Long Beach last April, watching as Hinchcliffe won the event.

“It was the best weekend of my life,” Crist said after the event. “It reminded me of why I joined this field in the first place and to never give up on my dreams.”

Jagger will oversee the expanded mentoring program this season. For Jagger, being involved especially hits home, as he is a graduate of Lincoln Tech’s Indianapolis campus.

“I totally enjoyed working with the Lincoln Tech students that participated in the Mentor Program last year and look forward to meeting this year’s group,” Jagger said. “Being a Lincoln Tech grad, I hope the students realize that if you have a passion for cars, a career in racing is something that’s not out of reach. If I can be an example for them to follow, that makes it even more rewarding.”

In addition to the at-track activities of the mentoring program, several Lincoln Tech branches across the country will utilize CNC computerized machining and manufacturing tools to assist in creating car parts for SPM.

“Through this unique partnership, we’re able to hopefully find the next class of talent that could one day be part of our organization,” SPM president Jon Flack said. “We’re looking forward to another year of the mentorship program and having their students be ‘boots on the ground’ gaining real-life experience with our team.”

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