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


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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Ford unveils a new Mustang for 2024 Le Mans in motorsports ‘lifestyle brand’ retooling

Ford Mustang Le Mans
Ford Performance

LE MANS, France — Ford has planned a return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with its iconic Mustang muscle car next year under a massive rebranding of Ford Performance aimed at bringing the automotive manufacturer “into the racing business.”

The Friday unveil of the new Mustang Dark Horse-based race car follows Ford’s announcement in February (and a ballyhooed test at Sebring in March) that it will return to Formula One in 2026 in partnership with reigning world champion Red Bull.

The Mustang will enter the GT3 category next year with at least two cars in both IMSA and the World Endurance Championship, and is hopeful to earn an invitation to next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. The IMSA entries will be a factory Ford Performance program run by Multimatic, and a customer program in WEC with Proton Competition.

Ford CEO Jim Farley, also an amateur sports car racer, told The Associated Press the Mustang will be available to compete in various GT3 series across the globe to customer teams. But more important, Farley said, is the overall rebranding of Ford Performance – done by renowned motorsports designer Troy Lee – that is aimed at making Ford a lifestyle brand with a sporting mindset.

“It’s kind of like the company finding its own, and rediscovering its icons, and doubling down on them,” Farley told the AP. “And then this motorsports activity is getting serious about connecting enthusiast customers with those rediscovered icons. It’s a big switch for the company – this is really about building strong, iconic vehicles with enthusiasts at the center of our marketing.”

Ford last competed in sports car racing in 2019 as part of a three-year program with Chip Ganassi Racing. The team scored the class win at Le Mans in 2016 in a targeted performance aimed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ford snapping Ferrari’s six-year winning streak.

Ford on Friday displayed a Mustang with a Lee-designed livery that showcased the cleaner, simplified look that will soon be featured on all its racing vehicles. The traditional blue oval with Ford Performance in white lettering underneath will now be branded simply FP.

The new mark will be used across car liveries, merchandise and apparel, display assets, parts and accessories and in advertising.

Farley cited Porsche as an automaker that has successfully figured out how to sell cars to consumers and race cars in various series around the world while creating a culture of brand enthusiasts. He believes Ford’s new direction will help the company sell street cars, race cars, boost interest in driving schools, and create a merchandise line that convinces consumers that a stalwart of American automakers is a hip, cool brand.

“We’re going to build a global motorsports business off road and on road,” Farley told the AP, adding that the design of the Mustang is “unapologetically American.”

He lauded the work of Lee, who is considered the top helmet designer among race car drivers.

“We’re in the first inning of a nine inning game, and going to Le Mans is really important,” Farley said. “But for customer cars, getting the graphics right, designing race cars that win at all different levels, and then designing a racing brand for Ford Performance that gets rebranded and elevated is super important.”

He said he’s kept a close eye on how Porsche and Aston Martin have built their motorsports businesses and said Ford will be better.

“We’re going in the exact same direction. We just want to be better than them, that’s all,” Farley said. “Second is the first loser.”

Farley, an avid amateur racer himself, did not travel to Le Mans for the announcement. The race that begins Saturday features an entry from NASCAR, and Ford is the reigning Cup Series champion with Joey Logano and Team Penske.

The NASCAR “Garage 56” entry is a collaboration between Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet and Goodyear, and is being widely celebrated throughout the industry. Farley did feel left out of the party in France – a sentiment NASCAR tried to avoid by inviting many of its partners to attend the race so that it wouldn’t seem like a Chevrolet-only celebration.

“They’re going right and I’m going left – that NASCAR thing is a one-year deal, right? It’s Garage 56 and they can have their NASCAR party, but that’s a one-year party,” Farley said. “We won Le Mans outright four times, we won in the GT class, and we’re coming back with Mustang and it’s not a one-year deal.

“So they can get all excited about Garage 56. I almost see that as a marketing exercise for NASCAR, but for me, that’s a science project,” Farley continued. “I don’t live in a world of science projects. I live in the world of building a vital company that everyone is excited about. To do that, we’re not going to do a Garage 56 – I’ve got to beat Porsche and Aston Martin and Ferrari year after year after year.”

Ford’s announcement comes on the heels of General Motors changing its GT3 strategy next season and ending its factory Corvette program. GM, which unlike Ford competes in the IMSA Grand Touring Prototype division (with its Cadillac brand), will shift fully to a customer model for Corvettes in 2024 (with some factory support in the IMSA GTD Pro category).