Ryan Newman feels for old buddy Tony Stewart, but not SHR’s struggles

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Ryan Newman was told shortly after mid-season in 2013 that his services would no longer be required at Stewart-Haas Racing at season’s end.

The reason: Newman was told there wasn’t enough sponsorship to keep him.

By all appearances, it appeared to be a business decision by SHR, particularly since Kevin Harvick was headed there to assume driving for the company’s third Sprint Cup team in addition to Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick.

Even winning the 2013 Brickyard 400 didn’t make a difference. Even eventually being the only SHR driver to make the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup didn’t make a difference, either.

Newman was going to be gone at season’s end.

But after being told there wasn’t enough money to run Newman in a fourth car, SHR majority owner Gene Haas went out and hired Kurt Busch to run a fourth car for the team in 2014.

You might think Newman would still carry some bitterness from all that, or that he might hold some glee inside now that Busch was eliminated from the Chase while Newman – with his new team at Richard Childress Racing – advanced to the second round.

Actually, Newman considers that not to be a big deal.

“No, not at all,” Newman said at this week’s Contender Round media day, adding to the reporter that posed the question, “I hadn’t thought about it until you just said it, honestly.”

Newman’s release was the second time SHR has raised eyebrows after questionable personnel moves.

In 2011, Darian Grubb was told before the Chase that he would be out as Tony Stewart’s crew chief at the end of that season.

In perhaps one of the most ironic turnabouts in NASCAR history, Grubb then helped Stewart go from winless in the 26-race regular season to win a series-high five races in the 10-race Chase, ultimately capped off with Stewart’s third championship in 10 seasons.

To their credit, Grubb and Newman have not publicly gloated at the misfortunes their former organization has gone through since their respective departures.

Newman even is quite sympathetic to both Stewart and the family of Kevin Ward Jr., after the latter was killed following being struck by Stewart’s car during a dirt track race in upstate New York on August 9.

“I’ve really only talked to him a little bit,” Newman said of Stewart. “I can only imagine what he’s going through emotionally and mentally.

“After a situation like that, it’s hard for anybody to say that you could ever be the same, whether it’s to the media or SHR or his friends or anybody else.”

While he still cares for his old friend, when Newman was asked if SHR will be able to rebound from Stewart’s recent troubles, Newman gave a slight hint of possibly how he really feels about his old organization as a whole.

“I don’t know, I don’t care,” Newman said with a slight chuckle. “If somebody’s a competitor of yours or a co-worker of yours that stubs his toe and has a bad day and affects you, does it really matter?”

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IndyCar at IMS Friday: How to watch, start times, live streaming info

IndyCar Indianapolis start times
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With three races remaining in the NTT IndyCar Series season, Scott Dixon has a commanding lead and history on his side entering Friday’s opener of the Harvest GP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The five-time series champion leads defending champ Josef Newgarden by 72 points.

Since 2014, the points leader with three races left has won the championship in five of the past six years, including Dixon in ’18.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver has led the championship standings following every round after opening 2020 with three consecutive victories. Dixon also led the points by 78 points with three races remaining when he won the title in 2008.

Dixon, Newgarden, Pato O’Ward, Colton Herta, Will Power, Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato are championship eligible.

Anyone outside 108 points of the lead after Indy will be eliminated heading into the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

Here is the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course schedule for Friday (all times are ET), including details and start times:

Indianapolis Motor Speedway TV schedule for Friday

IndyCar Harvest GP Race 1: 3:30 p.m., USA Network, NBC Sports Gold and streaming on the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com); Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer for IndyCar on NBCSN this weekend with analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy.

IndyCar Harvest GP, Race 1 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway start times, information


GREEN FLAG: 4 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 85 laps (207.35 miles) around Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s a 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in Indianapolis.

TIRE ALLOTMENT: Nine sets primary, five sets alternate (A 10th set of primary tires is available to any car fielding a rookie.) Teams must use one set of primary and one set of alternate tires in the race.

PUSH TO PASS: 200 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 20 seconds per activation.

FORECAST: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 57 degrees with a 0% chance of rain at the green flag.

QUALIFYING: 6:20 p.m. Thursday (NBC Sports Gold)

ENTRY LIST: Click here for the 25 drivers racing this weekend at Indianapolis