The Frontstretch: Racing To The Point: SHR Leaves Newman Feeling Puzzled by Brett Poirier -- Tuesday August 27, 2013

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Racing To The Point: SHR Leaves Newman Feeling Puzzled

Brett Poirier · Tuesday August 27, 2013


Imagine getting hired by one of your best friends to be a part of the growing business he owns, but after a few years he lays you off, citing economic reasons.

What exactly is Ryan Newman supposed to think about his dismissal from SHR at the end of the season?

It’s understandable.

At the same time, you notice that he’s in the process of hiring someone else for a similar position, and then two weeks later, that he’s been going out of his way to hire someone to replace you on top of that.

You find out the company is planning on expanding when you leave. Suddenly those economic reasons don’t make much sense, and you’re soon to be out of a job and left feeling bamboozled.

Exhibit A is Ryan Newman.

Let’s take a look at the timeline. In mid-July, Stewart-Haas Racing released a statement saying it couldn’t keep Newman in the fold because it wasn’t ready to expand to four cars and Kevin Harvick — a more accomplished driver with sponsorship backing — was taking over Newman’s spot.

“I truly wish we were able to facilitate four teams at this time,” Stewart said in the statement. “We are just not able to do that.”

About two weeks later, Newman dominated and won one of the sport’s most prestigious races and the most boring, the Brickyard 400.

About two weeks after that, rumors begin to swirl that Stewart is courting Kurt Busch for a fourth team in 2014. The news caught just about everyone off guard because it seemed Busch was going to be limited to driving for a mediocre team next year even after his stellar season. The best-case scenario looked like Richard Childress Racing, the team Harvick is bolting from to come to Stewart-Haas.

“If it didn’t surprise me as well as every other person on this planet that has anything to do with motorsports, we’d all be lying to ourselves,” Newman told the Sporting News’ Bob Pockrass about the Busch rumors.

No one really considered Stewart-Haas because they took Stewart for his word when he said the organization wasn’t ready to expand. It didn’t take long for the truth to surface. Stewart and Gene Haas didn’t think Newman’s performance warranted him sticking around, and that’s the real reason he’s leaving.

It turns out that Haas, owner of one of Newman’s current sponsors, Haas Automation, has plenty of money to pour into a team — he just wants that team to win more often, like they might have a chance of doing with Busch.

“I’d be happy to have a driver like that on our team,” Haas told ESPN on Saturday. “You’d win a lot of races. I’d really be happy for my company Haas to be in the winner’s circle. I’ve never been there. I want to be there with that name. I know Kurt has had a lot of sponsorship issues, but to me, I just want to win. I’m not too much worried about that stuff.”

So, really the decision to send Newman packing came down to performance. Stewart-Haas would be justified in firing Newman for performance reasons, even if he does still have a shot at the Chase. He has only four top fives in 24 races and his average finish of 17th is the worst it’s been in his five years with the organization. It’s certainly plausible that Harvick and Busch could do better.

The problem is that’s not what Stewart told Newman. He could’ve been honest and told Newman his performance wasn’t up to par. Instead, we got a charade. I guess it was designed so that no one’s feelings would get hurt, and if that was the case, it was an epic fail — worse than Gigli.

Could things be any more awkward for Newman now? He now knows that the driver who “hates his f***** job” and almost ran over all of his crew members last year at Darlington, is who Stewart-Haas is going out of its way to get while they release him.


Stewart might’ve broken his leg with a hammer before that sprint car accident just to avoid being at the track to face Newman. Just kidding, but clearly if it were true, it wouldn’t be the first thing he’s lied about.

A little truth can go a long way, and Stewart-Haas should’ve considered that this summer.

Contact Brett Poirier

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Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
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Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
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Bill B
08/27/2013 09:33 AM

Exactly. Just be honest and let the cards fall where they may. The only reason there is any negative vibe associated with this story is because SHR decided to pile on a layer of BS over the truth. Now they look like a bunch of putzes.

08/27/2013 10:56 AM

At the time, Stewart might not have been clued in with what Haas wanted. Perhaps they had a meeting that said “if we get sponsorship we will do it,” but Haas decided to put his own cash up to get Busch in his car.

There’s only 4-5 people that know the entire situation, and trying to make more than that is purely speculation. To me, it sounds like a lot of the media is just salty to Tony because he isn’t the most media-friendly guy out there, and because he doesn’t do things by the book all the time.

The team said in the release of Newman they’d like to facilitate to 4 cars, but can’t right now. Well, they just hired Rodney Childers who wasn’t there 2 weeks ago.

They’re essentially a pit crew and a few guys in the shop from being there. With Hendrick resources, I don’t see why everyone is upset for making a business decision that if you’re truthful to yourself, most of us would make.

08/27/2013 11:01 AM

What a bunch of BS. The best scenairo, would be that Ryan Newman, gets the #78 ride for next year and outruns ALL of the SHR cars. Still remember that Darian Grubb also got the shaft from SHR. Keeping Dancia Patrick for the money and not the performance is more BS. I have nothing against Kurt. But I have lost a lot of respect for SHR.

08/27/2013 11:14 AM

So let me see…In your world you wanted SHR to let Newman go and make the announcement “Newman just isn’t a good enough driver for SHR”. Smooth! AND you prefer SHR alerted it’s competitors it was trying to court Busch…maybe costing them obtaining Busch or in a bidding war? Cool move! Sounds like you have the business of running a Cup team well in hand! No large corporation gives away their secrets! I don’t understand why folks are so upset! As far as Newman goes…it happens! From what I understand they couldn’t cover his sponsorship ( or didn’t want to), he had no contract this season, and he took a paycut this season! And you’re telling me it was a surprise? AND we only know what SHR released and Newman is telling as to the reasons he was let go…I don’t have a clue what was said behind closed doors…do you? This entire matter would be nothing with another team…or if Stewart hadnt broken his leg. Have we forgotten Ganassi just gave his good old buddy Juan Pablo his pink slip? Wheres the outrage? This entire situation has gotten so overblown it’s actually worse (in the speculating press) then when Junior went to Hendrick. And man…THAT was a feeding frenzy!!!

Carl D.
08/27/2013 11:20 AM

Gotta agree with the author, and Bill B, and JER. SHR was dishonest and has lost whatever respect I still had for them which wasn’t much. Yes, it was a business move, but dishonest nevertheless.

Josie, Ganassi never said he was letting Montoya go because he couldn’t afford to keep him and then hired a replacement. There’s the difference.

08/27/2013 11:22 AM

Smoke has always just said and done whatever he thinks will play the best in the media. And it has always worked for him. Last year, at Bristol, he got into Matt Kenseth at the end of the race and forced him down to the asphalt. Matt refused to be taken out and they both ended up wrecking and losing the race. Tony makes a big play for the cameras by throwing his helmet at Kenseth’s car and all we ever get to see from that race is the helmet toss and Tony trying to rev up the fans after this childishness. Tony is Tony and he hasn’t changed a bit. The faux fight with Logano was also because of his over aggressive driving and after Joey tried to fight back, all we get to see and hear is that Tony nearly decked him. Whoopty do, I say. Drivers favored by the stupid media, mostly because they are good a shooting off their mouth, are almost never portrayed as being the villain in an altercation. It is hard for me to sympathize with Tony’s injury plight, when he sits in bed and gives Newman this kind of shabby treatment. I hope Ryan Newman gets a good ride next year and really shows Smoke what he has rotten(sic). At least Ryan won’t be driving leftover equipment anymore.

08/27/2013 11:34 AM

Newman should have seen the writing on the wall, when from all reports, most of his pit crew and car chief were given to Danica at the beginning of the season. Stewart is a low class, back stabbing ahole.

08/27/2013 11:50 AM

@Carl D. So I’m to believe Ganassi spoke the truth? I heard the release from Ganassi and it was “we want to go in a different direction”. Etc! Lets face it…like Newman, Montoya wasnt lighting the track on fire (well except Daytona)! It’s all good…I suppose every year with Silly Season we have a BIG change with folks speculating and taking sides…it’ll blow over..and racing will once again be in the forefront!

08/27/2013 12:27 PM

So what’s wrong with a team acting like Hendrick? After all, it works in the Nascar playground.

Jr. and Danica bring the PR and fans’ money. Then add some really good drivers using the best equipment.

Add in the mix the cozy relationship between Nascar, Hendrick, Middlebrook, and Chevy….

How hard is that to figure out? Can’t beat ‘em? Join ‘em!

08/27/2013 01:24 PM

If anyone was really paying attention to Zippy they saw him point to Haas when he stated things had changed. Haas made the decision to have a fourth team, hired Kurt, and is funding it. Now where do you see Tony s name in any of that? SHR is a partnership but isn’t it reasonable to think that even giving half the team to Tony that he kept the controlling interest in his pocket? Just maybe Tony had no say in the deal with Kurt. Haas is a pretty savvy businessman and he might just be a bit po’d at Tony being laid up and not wanting all his egg’s in one basket going forward.
SHR has had sponsorship issues, for whatever reason sponsors for Ryan were hard to find. So into the picture comes Harvick with the Bud deal in hand so how difficult was that decision to make?
I see this deal as being a Haas deal. I think Tony and Zippy were being honest with Ryan. I think it was Haas that stepped in and muddied the waters and Tony had little to say in the matter.
What I fear now is a rift between Tony and Haas that will have a detrimental effect on the partnership and the team. I also fear that the turmoil that Kurt can bring to any team will hinder any team progress. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

dyno dave
08/27/2013 01:25 PM

I doubt anyone other than Tony, Ryan and a very few select others know the real reason for Ryan’s departure. I seriously doubt it had anything to do with any of the announced reasons, i.e. sponsorshop, economics, expansion/not expansion to 4 cars, etc. etc.

08/27/2013 02:35 PM

@ mrclause: I agree and think this also may be headed for a Stewart Haas split on down the road.

08/27/2013 02:38 PM

While everyone is speculating that Newman should go to Furniture Row and hopefully perform better than Hendrick2, I mean Stewart/Haas, here is another possible change, one that would do the driver good: Greg Biffle to the #42 Ganassi Racing, complete with 3M! He is, after all, in his contract year, and as I said, the change will do him good.

08/27/2013 02:54 PM

The lie was public..Newman knows why he’s out…Kurt & Kevin may blow that whole organization up (primadonas) & I do hope Newman finds a good ride (?) as he has been a good team guy..But Teams gotta do what they need to to win & Ryans record isn’t the best )whole team stunk to start the season) ..Note: Comparisons to JR & Danica…1’s has spent the season 5-8th in points & the others 26th…Huh?

08/27/2013 03:08 PM

I say bs. This report about Haas may be true, but Tony is just as much to blame, after all he is a partner. This classless bunch seem to be lacking a whole bunch of character, IMO. SHR with its current line up sounds like a nightmare daycare center. I do not see this bunch rising beyond their current shortcomings, in fact I see the bad behavior each of of these people displayed on more than one occasion only to get worse, with each enabling the other. No cream is going to rise to the top here.

Bill B
08/27/2013 07:35 PM

To those who think it’s OK to pile on the BS because it’s the corporate way I say that’s a weak argument. I don’t like it when politicians do it. I don’t like it when celebrities do it. And I don’t like it when corporations do it. It’s called “spin” because BS isn’t politically correct and I hate someone pissing on my head and telling me it’s raining.
Say what you mean and do what you say. It’s that simple.

08/27/2013 08:12 PM

I am just happy Newman is getting away from SHR.Wasn’t Haas in prison not too long ago anyway? A return to Penske would definitely be a step up!

08/27/2013 08:44 PM

Gene Haas and Rick Hendrick what a pair. One convicted of bribery & mail fraud the other for tax evasion. And who says crime does not pay. Maybe Ryan is better off.

08/27/2013 09:07 PM

I have had the chance to meet Tony Stewart at his dirt track, Macon Co. Speedway in Macon, IL and the guy is a self-absorbed A!!HOLE! I can see him easily saying one thing to the media and doing something else. When he is done burning the bridges he will be running dirt for good because there will not be any drivers left that will drive for him. Let’s be honest about another thing, Tony isn’t exactly visiting victory lane these days! Sure it was a business decision but show some class. Instead they have no problem letting the truth come out later and making Ryan look stupid. Shows what Stewart Haas is really made of and it doesn’t smell good at all! In defense of Rick Hendrick, lets look at the drivers that left and how it was done. Kyle Busch wanted out, Mark Martin knew it was only gonna be for short term and Rick made that clear up front. He may have let drivers go in the past but he did it with class and made sure not to humiliate those drivers like Stewart just did.

08/27/2013 09:09 PM

I just read the AP story from today and that was just SHR feeding us more crap. Haas said Stewart didn’t support this and he did it without Stewart, but Zipadelli says Stewart fully supported it, and Stewart couldn’t even show up at the news conference to introduce his own driver. Does anyone know what they are doing over there?

08/27/2013 10:12 PM

Did Tony forget that Kurt almost took out his crew driving through his pit box a few years back?

And, Kurt wasn’t invited to the Prelude in the past either.

Here’s are my hopes. Ryan gets a decent ride and does really well and Kurt starts driving like he did for Finch and wrecks a car every week. Oh, and one more, that Ryan is higher in points than Kurt is next year.

08/28/2013 06:29 AM

I don’t think any of the “silly season” shenanigans should surprise us. Most of these people would sell their own mothers down the river if they thought it would be more profitable.

08/28/2013 10:33 AM

Like many of you, I have lost a lot of respect for Stewart. I also think that SHR has bitten off far more than it can chew. We now have two of the rudest prima-donnas in racing on the same team. Add Danica to the mix and I’ll wager there will be a major blow up in that team come next season. Talk about a collection of no class a******. I hope Ganassi picks up Newman.

Gerry Blachley
08/28/2013 02:31 PM

did you guys some thing Ryan and his Wife are good people go find the bad guys to gripe about there in the NFL & NBA