Sprint Cup Driver Review: Ryan Newman

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After talking about the big stories and ranking our Top 10 drivers from the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, my colleague Tony DiZinno and I are taking a look back on how each of the 13 Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders fared this past year.

In his final year with Stewart-Haas Racing, Ryan Newman finished 11th…

RYAN NEWMAN
No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
2013 Stats: 11th Place, One Win, 6 Top-5s, 18 Top-10s, 128 Laps Led
Average Start: 15.6
Average Finish: 16.0
DNFs: 5

Estrada Says: Mixed bag, anyone? First, the good bits: Indiana boy Newman won the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and then made the Chase after NASCAR lowered the boom on Michael Waltrip Racing and Martin Truex Jr. following the race manipulation scandal at Richmond. But on the flip side, Newman lost his ride at Stewart-Haas Racing, which maintained it didn’t have enough funding for a fourth team at the time; just weeks later, SHR’s co-owner Gene Haas managed to sign Kurt Busch for a fourth program (Newman eventually captured a 2014 drive at Richard Childress Racing). Once in the Chase, Newman couldn’t stay in the title hunt for long as a 35th place result at Kansas pretty much did him and the No. 39 team in.

DiZinno Says: An odd year for Newman really. Had his moments of brilliance, with the Brickyard win,and two pole positions a year after he went pole-less. Never seemed a true title contender, though, even as he ascended to SHR’s only championship hope when his team boss and teammate Tony Stewart got injured in a sprint car crash. And it was during that injury period that the process of replacing Newman began, which naturally lowered Newman’s desire to want to help his current team while seeking new employment. He threw his pit crew under the bus in the immediate aftermath of Richmond but then got in on after the MWR penalties. A change of scenery will likely do both parties well in 2014.

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Al Unser Jr. to race Pikes Peak Hill Climb for first time in 29 years

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Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. is coming out of retirement to race again.

Unser Jr., who turns 56 on April 19, will compete in the 96th Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on June 24. It will be the first time Unser has raced at Pikes Peak in 29 years, since the 1989 event.

Unser won the Hill Climb and was named “King of the Mountain” in the 1983 event.

Unser said in 2007 that he was retiring from racing and had no plans to race in the future. However, he has taken part since then in some selected vintage racing events.

Speaking of vintage cars, Unser is slated to drive a 1936 Chevrolet Sedan in this year’s Hill Climb, according to race organizers.

He’ll compete with a number of luminaries including eight-time Hill Climb winner Paul Dallenbach; Layne Schranz, who will be competing in his 25th “Race to the Clouds”; 23-time champion Clint Vahsholtz; 25-time Hill Climb competitor David Schmidt II and three-time Climb winner Spencer Steele.

Unser recently returned to IndyCar racing as a consultant with Harding Racing, which is beginning its first full season in the series with Gabby Chaves behind the wheel.