Ryan Newman enters his second season behind the wheel of Roush Fenway’s No. 6 Ford Mustang, looking to build on a season that saw the Daytona 500 Champion rocket Jack Roush’s iconic Ford back into the NASCAR Playoffs, while scoring 14 top-10 finishes and coming just a fraction of an inch of putting the No. 6 back into victory lane in one of the closest finishes in NASCAR history at Talladega.
Ryan Newman enters his third season behind the wheel of Roush Fenway’s iconic No. 6 Ford Mustang in 2021. Newman is coming off a 2020 season that provided a rollercoaster of emotions, capping his 19th full-time season in NASCAR’s top series.
The 43-year-old was just feet away from his second Daytona 500 title in the season opener but was hospitalized following a horrific crash at the finish line, in one of the most documented incidents in the sport’s history. But, the 2008 Daytona 500 Champion walked out of a Florida hospital just two days following the incident and missed just three races in total – the three subsequent events on the West Coast.
In the midst of his miraculous comeback, COVID-19 would shut down all activities in March, providing an even further gap for Newman to recover. After a required on-track test by NASCAR – one that he passed at Darlington – Newman returned to his seat in May at the same track, in the sport’s first race back following a two-month hiatus due to the pandemic.
Newman ran 15th in his first race back, one of four top-15s within the first six races of the new-look NASCAR schedule. Outside of a late-season top-10, his best run came in the first race at Martinsville, where he ran 12th. In total the Indiana native finished with two top-10s, highlighted by a season-best sixth-place run in a chaotic fall Talladega race.
Newman has led over 4,850 laps and his 51 poles are the ninth most in NASCAR history. He was named the Cup Series rookie of the year in 2002 and won the 2008 Daytona 500 and the 2013 Brickyard 400. He has finished inside the top 10 of the final Cup standings on seven occasions; including a second-place finish in 2014, and has qualified for the NASCAR Cup playoffs on nine different occasions since its inception in 2004. He was also named NASCAR Driver of the Year in 2003.
Newman’s first season at Roush Fenway was highlighted by a strong summer run to the playoffs, that saw the veteran string together five top-10 finishes in six races from Michigan to Loudon. With the pressure at a fever pitch and all eyes on the Newman, the team scored a dramatic eighth-place finish in the cutoff race at Indianapolis to earn the No. 6’s first playoff spot in 13 years.
Throughout the 10-race playoff run, Newman put together an additional four top-10 finishes, including the near-win in Talladega where he was edged at the line by .007 seconds, the sixth-closest finish in NASCAR history and third-smallest margin ever at Talladega Superspeedway. Despite not advancing through to the Championship round, Newman and the team ended 2019 on a strong note, putting together a seventh-place result in Homestead.
The hard-nosed driver set the tone for 2019 in the season opener where Newman survived what seemed like a flurry of accidents in the Daytona 500, to salvage a 14th-place finish, despite a mangled right front tire. That driver improved even more into the spring as he and the team put together an average finish of ninth in April with three-consecutive top-10 results.
The South Bend, Indiana, native spent the 2014-18 seasons with Richard Childress Racing in the No. 31, where he claimed one win (Phoenix – 2017) 63 top-10s, 19 top-fives and three playoff berths.
Prior to his five-year stint at RCR, Newman spent five seasons with Stewart-Haas Racing, where he was a four-time winner with 78 top-10 and 30 top-five finishes. In his first year with SHR in 2009, Newman earned a berth in NASCAR’s Chase, where he finished ninth in the final standings. The 2010 season produced a November win for Newman at Phoenix, one of his two wins at the track.
The following year, Newman made his fourth appearance in the Chase and finished 10th. His 16th-career win followed in 2012 at Martinsville Speedway in April as he closed out the season 14th in points.
In 2013, another crown jewel was added to the driver’s win column. Newman started from the pole and kissed the famed bricks after winning the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His winning form qualified him for the Chase, and two days later RCR announced Newman as the driver of the No. 31 beginning in 2014.
Before his days with Stewart-Haas, Newman drove for Roger Penske to begin his stock car career, one that would start in the ARCA RE/MAX Series back in 2000. He won three of the five ARCA races he entered that year and eventually made his Cup debut at Phoenix that same year.
In 2001, Penske planned for Newman to run at least 23 combined events in both ARCA and NASCAR, while Newman attended Purdue University. In addition to five ARCA events, Newman ran 15 Busch Series races that season, winning poles in his second and third career starts and scoring his first career win at Michigan International Speedway in just his ninth career start. He also had a series-high six poles.
It was the following season, 2002, that Newman began full time in the Cup series, where he would win a season-high six poles, record 22 top-10 and 14 top-five finishes. Newman went on to edge Jimmie Johnson for the Rookie of the Year Award after claiming his first Cup win at New Hampshire that September.
The “Rocket Man” nickname held true in 2003 as he continued to lead the series in most poles with 11. Newman also won eight races, the most of any driver that year en route to another sixth-place finish in the standings. Postseason honors included the 2003 SPEED Driver of the Year, the National Motorsports Press Association Richard Petty Driver of the Year, the Benny Kahn/Daytona Beach News-Journal Driver of the Year and The Sporting News’ Dale Earnhardt Toughest Driver of the Year.
Newman successfully earned a berth in NASCAR’s inaugural Chase in 2004. For the second-straight year, he led the competition with most poles (nine), along with winning two more events. Team Penske also fielded cars for Newman in the Xfinity Series, where he won six of the nine races he entered.
The next two seasons saw Newman rocket to the top spot in qualifying seven times to finish out those years in 18th and 13th in the championship standings, respectively.
Newman launched his seventh premier series season in grand style by winning the sport’s most prestigious event, the 50th running of the Daytona 500 in 2008.
Prior to joining the NASCAR ranks, Newman’s open-wheel career started in 1983 when he drove in his first quarter midget race in New Carlisle, Indiana, and through the course of several seasons won more than 100 features, six regional championships and the 1988 Grand National Quarter Midget championship in the Heavy Mod division.
In 1993, Newman switched to full-sized midgets in the All-American Midget Series. He quickly made a name for himself by becoming the first driver to win both Rookie of the Year honors and the series championship in the same season. That same season, success continued, leading to the Michigan State Midget championship and induction into the Quarter Midget Hall of Fame.
Newman made the move to the United States Auto Club (USAC) in 1995 and in back-to-back seasons captured Rookie of the Year honors in the National Midget and Silver Crown Series. His first major USAC victory came in the prestigious Night Before the 500 at Lucas Oil Raceway in 1997.
In 1999, Newman balanced studying vehicle-structure engineering at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, while continuing to be a very active racer. He went on to become the first driver to win all three USAC National Rookie of the Year honors in the same year along with capturing the Silver Crown title.
Newman has two children, Brooklyn and Ashlyn. He is co-founder of Rescue Ranch, a non-profit animal welfare organization in Statesville, North Carolina, whose mission is to promote, through its education, respect for all animals, as well as agricultural, environmental, and wildlife conservation.