12 hours before returning to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Ryan Newman took the time to return to his racing roots.
Newman, 37, returned to the USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series Thursday night, piloting the No. 21 Bricker’s Pub Beast/Chevrolet for Bowman-Armstrong Racing in the Rich Vogler Classic at Lucas Oil Raceway.
“Richard Childress said ‘go try to win it,’ so we tried,” said Newman, who won Rookie of the Year honors in Silver Crown in 1995.
Newman, who drives for Richard Childress Racing in the Cup Series, competed in the event just one week after running a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
“It’s just good racing,” said Newman of the decision to race at LOR. “It’s fun racing the cars that I used to race. People are good to see, and it’s convenient because it’s close to the speedway.”
Newman, a native of nearby South Bend, Indiana competed in the race with friends and family in attendance, offering a rare glimpse into his personal life. Attempting to focus in his cockpit just prior to the race, Newman was temporarily distracted as a small boy waved a stuffed animal in front of “Uncle Ryan” just before engines were fired.
“There are a lot of friends and family around, and that’s kind of what it’s all about,” said Newman.
NASCAR used to run at the Clermont track, holding races in the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series until 2012. However, while some fans are calling for NASCAR to return to the speedway, Newman’s more worried about the current races.
“I’m not so much worried about NASCAR coming to (LOR) as I am about open wheel putting on good shows,” said Newman. “I think if USAC could get some more cars here and bring more fans out, it would get the series back to where it was in the late ’90s and early 2000s.”
“Tanner’s won a lot of races and Kody’s leading the points, so I was running with the best of them,” said Newman. “We just came up short.”
But despite failing to reach Victory Lane, Newman remained in good spirits while undergoing a bit of nostalgia for how life used to be.
“It was a good opportunity to win a race,” said Newman. “I was fortunate enough to win back in ’99 here. To come back here a few years later, try again and still be competitive feels good.”