A significant milestone is in the making for veteran Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 6 Ford Mustang for Roush Fenway Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series, as he battles for a spot in this year’s Playoffs. When the green flag waves in the upcoming Cup race at Daytona International Speedway, Newman will achieve 750 starts across NASCAR’s three major division series (Truck, Xfinity and Cup Series).
A native from South Bend, Indiana, who started his racing career in the United Midget Auto Racing Association and the All-American Midget Series before moving to USAC, Newman achieved three ARCA victories while driving for team owner Roger Penske in 2000 before he made his first NASCAR start at Phoenix in the Cup Series in November 2000. Driving the No. 02 Alltel Ford for Penske led by crew chief Matt Borland, Newman started 10th and finished 41st due to an engine failure.
In 2001, while Newman was pursuing his B.S. degree in engineering at Purdue University, he competed in 15 Xfinity Series events and seven Cup Series events for Penske. In the Xfinity side, he achieved his first career win at Michigan International Speedway in August. He also earned six poles, two top-five results, eight top-10 results and an average result of 12.6. In the Cup side, he achieved his first career pole for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte’s Lowe’s Motor Speedway in May. Despite a strong start, where he led the first 10 laps, he wrecked in Turn 3 the following lap and retired in last place of the 43-car field. Overall, he earned two top-five results, including a career-best runner-up finish at Kansas Speedway in September behind Jeff Gordon, in seven Cup starts.
In 2002, Newman graduated to a full-time driving role for Penske and in the No. 12 Alltel Ford for Penske led by Borland. Through the first 11 races, Newman earned a pole and four top-10 results, including a second-place finish at Richmond in May. The following race, which was The Winston (All-Star Race) at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Newman was one of two competitors to transfer to the main event from The Winston Open after winning the No Bull 5 Sprint. In a five-lap shootout in the main event, Newman held off Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win The Winston and a total of $750,000. He became the first Cup competitor to win The Winston after transferring from the Open since Michael Waltrip made the last accomplishment in 1996 and the first to do so from the No Bull 5 Sprint. From the Coca-Cola 600 in May through Richmond in September, Newman earned 11 top-10 results and four runner-up finishes. The following race at New Hampshire, Newman achieved his first Cup career win in his 35th series start. For the final nine races of the 2002 season, Newman earned five six top-10 results and three poles before he concluded the season in sixth place in the final standings. In the end, Newman emerged as the Rookie-of-the-Year recipient over Jimmie Johnson with 14 top-five results and 22 top-10 results. His six poles were the most achieved by a rookie competitor.
Newman started off the 2003 season on a rough note by flipping in the Daytona 500 in February following contact with Ken Schrader. It took until Texas Motor Speedway in April for Newman to achieve his first victory of the season and the second of his Cup career. The 2003 Cup season was an up-and-down season for the Indiana native. The pros to the season were the driver of the No. 12 Alltel/Penske Dodge achieving a season-high eight victories (winning at tracks like Dover, Chicagoland, Pocono, Michigan, Richmond and Kansas), 17 top-five results and 22 top-10 results. In addition, Newman earned a season-high 11 poles and was nicknamed “The Rocket Man” for his strong qualifying efforts and pole awards. The downside to Newman’s sophomore season was that he earned seven DNFs, including his flip at Daytona and after triggering a vicious 27-car wreck in the early laps at Talladega in April when he blew a tire in the middle of the pack, made hard contact against the Turn 1 outside wall and nearly flipped. He went on to conclude the season in sixth place in the final standings.
Throughout the 2004 NASCAR Cup Series season, Newman won two races (Michigan in June and Dover in September) and recorded nine poles. He also earned 11 top-five results and 14 top-10 results as he was one of 10 competitors to make the inaugural postseason battle in the Cup Series. He concluded the season in seventh-place in the final standings. Prior to the conclusion of the 2004 season, Newman surpassed 100 starts across NASCAR’s three major division series.
In 2005, Newman remained as a full-time competitor of the No. 12 Alltel/Penske Dodge in the Cup Series while he also competed in nine Xfinity Series races in the No. 39 Alltel/Penske Dodge. Throughout the 2005 Cup season, he won only one race (New Hampshire in September) and he earned eight poles, eight top-five results and 16 top-10 results. In addition, he made the Playoffs and concluded the season in sixth place in the final standings for the third time in his career. In nine Xfinity starts, he won six races, including the season finale at Homestead while also winning at Watkins Glen, Michigan, Bristol, Dover and Charlotte.
In 2006, Newman remained as a full-time competitor of the No. 12 Alltel/Penske Dodge in the Cup Series while he also competed in six Xfinity races in the No. 39 Mobil 1/Alltel/Penske Dodge. The 2006 Cup season was a down season for the Indiana native, who went winless and only earned two poles, two top-five results and seven top-10 results. In addition, he missed the Playoffs and concluded the season in 18th place in the final standings. His best result in the Xfinity Series was a runner-up finish at Auto Club Speedway in February. Following 2006, Newman surpassed 200 starts across NASCAR’s three major division series.
Throughout the 2007 Cup season, Newman achieved five poles, seven top-five results and 15 top-10 results before he concluded the Cup season in 13th place. He also made eight Xfinity starts, where he earned two top-five results and three top-10 results. In 2008, Newman received a draft from teammate Kurt Busch to pass Tony Stewart on the final lap and win the 50th running of the Daytona 500. The victory was Newman’s 13th of his Cup career, it snapped his winless drought dating back to September 2005 and it was the first Daytona 500 win for team owner Roger Penske. Despite winning the 500, Newman only achieved one more top-five results, one pole and a total of eight top-10 results before he concluded the season in 17th place in the final standings. Throughout the season, he made two Xfinity starts (Watkins Glen in the No. 22 FitzBradshaw Racing and at Homestead in the No. 33 Chevrolet for Kevin Harvick Inc.). He also made his NASCAR Truck Series debut at Atlanta Motor Speedway in October while driving the No. 2 Chevrolet Silverado for KHI, which he won following a late battle with NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr. To August 2020, Newman is one of 33 competitors to achieve a win across NASCAR’s three major division series. Following 2008, he also surpassed 300 starts across NASCAR’s three major division series.
Midway into the 2008 season, Newman announced his departure from Penske to drive for the newly formed Stewart-Haas Racing in 2009. Driving the No. 39 U.S. Army/Haas Automation Chevrolet for SHR with support from crew chief Tony Gibson, Newman finished 36th in his first start with SHR. Though he did not record a victory, the 26-race regular-season stretch was a consistent run for Newman as he achieved 12 top-10 results and made the 2009 Playoffs along with teammate/owner Tony Stewart, which marked his first appearance in the Playoffs since 2005. At Talladega in October, he was involved in a harrowing accident in the closing laps when he was sent airborne and landed upside down on Kevin Harvick’s hood before he slid across and down the banking on his roof and flipped once before he came to rest on his roof. He was able to emerged uninjured. For the final 10 races, he earned three more top-10 results and concluded the season in ninth place in the final standings. Throughout the 2009 season, he made 10 Xfinity starts between the No. 33 Chevrolet for Kevin Harvick Inc., the No. 5 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports and the No. 1 Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing. His best run was at Talladega in April, where he started on pole and was in prime position of winning before he was edged by David Ragan at the finish line. He also made two Truck starts in the No. 2 Chevrolet for Kevin Harvick Inc. as he finished in fourth place in both races.
Through the first six races of the 2010 Cup season, Newman finished no higher than fourth place. The following race at Phoenix, Newman, sporting the Tornados Ruiz Foods colors on his car and racing on two fresh tires on a two-lap shootout, overtook Jeff Gordon for the lead and held off Gordon to win as he achieved his first victory since the 2008 Daytona 500 and his first with Stewart-Haas Racing. He also recorded the first victory for veteran crew chief Tony Gibson. Though he missed the Playoffs and concluded the season in 15th place in the final standings, Newman and the No. 39 Chevrolet team achieved 12 additional top-10 results and a pole. He also made 12 Xfinity starts, all with Phoenix Racing, and he earned seven top-10 results.
Throughout the 26-race regular-season stretch of the 2011 Cup season, Newman won one race (New Hampshire in July) and earned 13 top-10 results as he made the Playoffs for the fourth time in his career. For the remaining 10 races of the season in the Playoffs, Newman recorded four additional top-10 results and concluded the season in 10th place in the final standings while Tony Stewart went on to win his third Cup championship. Newman also competed in one Xfinity event and one Truck event throughout 2011, both with Turner Motorsports. Following 2011, he surpassed 400 starts.
After finishing in the top 10 in two of the first five Cup races in 2012, Newman, sporting the Outback Steakhouse colors on his No. 39 SHR Chevrolet, made a late pass for the at Martinsville Speedway in April following a restart collision that knocked out Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer, and he went on to win following a late battle with A.J. Allmendinger. Throughout the season, he earned six top-five results and 14 top-10 results before he concluded the season in 14th place in the standings while missing the Playoffs for the second time in the last four seasons. He also made one Xfinity start at Texas in November with Turner Motorsports, where he finished 19th.
For the first 19 races of the 2013 Cup season, Newman earned eight top-10 results. The following race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, his home track, he started off the weekend by achieving his 50th Cup career pole. On race day, he and crew chief Matt Borland opted for a two-tire pit stop in the closing laps to beat Jimmie Johnson and achieve his first victory of the season at Indianapolis in front of a home crowd. For the next five Cup races, Newman earned two additional top-five results. At Richmond in September, he took the lead late in the race and was in position of claiming a second victory and qualifying for the Playoffs when Clint Bowyer spun late in the race. Following an ensuing pit stop, where Newman exited in fifth place, he made his way up to third place, but he missed the Playoffs in a tiebreaker with Martin Truex Jr., Bowyer’s teammate. A few days later, however, Newman replaced Truex in the Playoffs along with Jeff Gordon after NASCAR determined that Bowyer’s spin was intentional in an effort for Truex to make the Playoffs and place two Michael Waltrip Racing cars in the postseason. He went on to achieve six additional top-10 results before he concluded the season in 11th place in the final standings. He also competed in the inaugural Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway, where he finished in third place. Following 2013, Newman surpassed 500 starts.
After five seasons with Stewart-Haas Racing, Newman joined forces with Richard Childress Racing to drive the No. 31 Caterpillar/Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS led by crew chief Luke Lambert in 2014 while SHR expanded to a four-car operation as Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch joined the organization. He finished 22nd in his first start with RCR in the Daytona 500 and went on to achieve nine top-10 results throughout the 26-race regular-season stretch to make the Playoffs. For the first eight races in the Playoffs, he earned five top-10 results. At Phoenix in November, Newman made a heroic bump and last lap pass on rookie Kyle Larson to finish in 11th place and earn a spot in the Championship Round at Homestead. At Homestead, he finished second on track and in the final standings to race winner and the champion Kevin Harvick. Overall, he earned five top-five results and 16 top-10 results in his first season with RCR and the runner-up result in the standings was his best in his 13th full-time season in the Cup Series.
Throughout the 2015 and 2016 Cup seasons, Newman earned seven top-five results and 25 top-10 results while achieving a best points result of 11th place in 2015. He also made one Truck start at Kansas in May in the No. 8 NEMCO Motorsports Chevrolet, where he finished second. Following 2016, Newman surpassed 600 starts. In 2017, following the first three races, Newman and crew chief Luke Lambert gambled in the closing laps by remaining on track on old tires with the lead. In a two-lap shootout, Newman held off Larson to win his first Cup race since the 2013 Brickyard 400 and his first with RCR. He concluded the 2017 season with a total of seven top-five results, 13 top-10 results and a 16th-place result in the final standings along with his Phoenix win.
After five seasons with Richard Childress Racing and coming off a disappointing 2018 season, where he only earned nine top-10 results and concluded the season in 17th place in the final standings, Newman moved to Roush Fenway Racing to pilot the iconic No. 6 Ford Mustang in the 2019 Cup Series season led by crew chief Scott Graves. Newman finished 14th in his first race with RFR in the Daytona 500 and he earned nine top-10 results throughout the 26-race regular-season stretch to make the Playoffs. Following finishes of 10th, fifth and 32nd in the first round (three races) of the Playoffs, he was eliminated from title contention. He went on to earn three additional top-10 results and conclude the season in 15th place in the final standings. Following 2019, Newman surpassed 700 starts across NASCAR’s three major division series.
This season, Newman started off 19th full-time season in the Cup Series on a harrowing note. He was in prime position of winning his second Daytona 500 entering the frontstretch until a bump from Blaney turned Newman’s No. 6 Ford across the track and into the outside wall, where he flipped upside down and was hit on the driver’s side by an oncoming Corey LaJoie. The impact launched Newman into the air and across the finish line in ninth place before he came to rest on his roof with oil leaking and flames bursting out of his car. Following the accident, Newman was transported to a local hospital in Florida, where he sustained serious but non life-threatening injuries. Nearly two days after his accident, Newman walked out of the hospital while holding the hands of his daughters. With Newman recovering from a head injury, Ross Chastain drove Newman’s No. 6 car in three races.
In May, when NASCAR returned to on-track racing in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Newman was medically cleared to return to racing. He achieved a pair of top-15 results in his first two races back since his injuries at Darlington Raceway. He went on to earn six additional top-15 results in 22 starts through the first 25 Cup races of this season. He is currently ranked in 25th place in the regular-season standings, 245 points below the top-16 cutline, and is in a “must-win” scenario to make the 2020 Cup Playoffs.
Catch Newman’s milestone start and final bid to make the 2020 Cup Playoffs at Daytona on Saturday, August 29, at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC.