AVONDALE, Ariz. — At the track he made his first Cup start, Ryan Newman goes into Sunday’s season finale at Phoenix Raceway not knowing where he’ll run another Cup race.
“There’s a chance this is may last full-time season, no doubt,” Newman said after qualifying for his 725th career series race. “I’m 43. Going to be 44 in a month. Odds are I’m not going to get an opportunity to do it with a team that gives me an opportunity to be a champion ever. That’s OK. I really just want to win some races.”
Newman admits “it will probably be emotional at some point, but I’ll be all right.”
Newman’s first Cup start came Nov. 5, 2000, at Phoenix for car owner Roger Penske. Newman finished 41st. He went on to win Cup Rookie of the Year honors in 2002. Newman has won 18 Cup races, including the 50th Daytona 500 in 2008 and the 2013 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis.
His last Cup victory came in 2017 at Phoenix. He completes his third season with Roush Fenway Racing and will be replaced by Brad Keselowski, who also will be a team owner.
“The time at Roush Fenway has been a challenge, especially the last couple of years,” Newman said. “Can’t really necessary pinpoint exactly as to why, as to the overall performance hasn’t been there.”
So, what’s next for Newman?
He still wants to race. USAC is an option. So are modified and “anything on dirt … just racing in general. I still love it.”
He isn’t the only driver who enters Sunday’s season finale without a ride for next season.
Matt DiBenedetto and Ryan Preece are among others without a contract for next season.
DiBenedetto says he continues to work on options for next year as he enters his final race with Wood Brothers Racing. Harrison Burton will take over that ride next season.
“There are options on the racing front that I feel good about,” DiBenedetto said. “Although it’s very stressful, I also know that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to because it has the last 29 years of my life, and I don’t expect year 30 to be any different.”
After earlier saying he wanted only a Cup ride, DiBenedetto said he’s kept his options open for rides elsewhere.
“At the time, I was like, ‘I want to be in Cup only and I want to win in Cup and this and that,’ and then I had to humble myself and say, ‘I need to be open to everything,’” he said. “I don’t need to be saying ‘I want this’ when I don’t know what’s best for me and what’s next.”
Preece also is looking for a ride with JTG Daugherty Racing downsizing to one team next year. Preece says the only race he’s scheduled to run after Sunday is the Dec. 5 Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.