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Are Ryan Newman’s NASCAR days numbered despite a new sponsor?

Ryan Newman has an eight-race sponsorship with Kohler Generators (Car graphic courtesy of Roush Fenway Racing)
Ryan Newman has an eight-race sponsorship with Kohler Generators (Car graphic courtesy of Roush Fenway Racing)
Ted Fleming
EXPERT
Modified 13 Jan 2021, 09:19 IST
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Roush Fenway Racing announced on Tuesday that Kohler Generators would be the primary sponsor on Ryan Newman’s No. 6 NASCAR Cup Series entry this season. It is an eight-race deal starting with the Daytona 500.

Kohler is a leader in whole-home backup generators and operates underneath the umbrella of Kohler Co.

Newman is entering his twentieth full-time season in the NASCAR Premier Series, and there are questions about whether it could be his last. Kohler will also be his anchor sponsor at Atlanta (March 21 - Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500), Darlington (May 9 – title sponsor TBD), Charlotte (May 9 – Coca-Cola 600), Road America (July 4 – Title sponsor TBD), Bristol (September 19 – Bass Pro Shops Night Race), Talladega (October 3 – YellaWood 500), and Martinsville (October 31 – Xfinity 500).

“We are looking forward to getting back to Daytona this year, and bringing on Kohler Generators as the primary partner for our biggest race of the season is really exciting,” said Newman in a release.

He was seconds away from winning his second Daytona 500 last season.

“KOHLER is one of the most trusted brands in the world and is a natural fit with Roush Fenway and the No. 6 team. We came very close to winning this race last season, so hopefully this year we can go to Daytona, finish the job and put that Kohler Generators Ford in victory lane at what is undoubtedly one of the grandest events in all of motorsports,” Newman added.

If you remember, Newman cheated death after a fiery crash that left his car demolished at the track that took Dale Earnhardt's life in the same race back in 2001.

Diagnosed with ‘only’ a brain bruise, he left the hospital shortly after that, hand in hand with his two daughters.

Is NASCAR ready to bit adieu to Ryan Newman?

Newman is one of the most well-liked and talented drivers NASCAR has ever seen. He won the Great American Race in 2008.

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But Newman's expiring contract with Roush Fenway, coupled with his declining performance, does not work in his favor. At his age, most drivers are either retired or are making plans to do so.

Ryan Newman, driver of the #6 Koch Industries Ford, flips over as he crashes during the NASCAR Cup Series 62nd Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #6 Koch Industries Ford, flips over as he crashes during the NASCAR Cup Series 62nd Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Following the horrific events of last February, Newman was back in his Mustang after having missed only three races.

That number is a bit misleading, however, because NASCAR had to suspend operations due to the pandemic and did not return until May. In other words, he missed three months, not three races.

The 32 NASCAR Cup Series races that followed his return impressed no one. It resulted in just two top tens, a sixth at Talladega, and despite the events at Daytona in the season opener, his car slid across the finish line placed sixth. 

Ryan Newman speaks to the media during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 61st Annual Daytona 500 Media Day at Daytona International Speedway on February 13, 2019 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Ryan Newman speaks to the media during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 61st Annual Daytona 500 Media Day at Daytona International Speedway on February 13, 2019 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
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But here is the unvarnished truth: when you have zero wins since joining one of the best-run organizations, Roush Fenway, and only one in the last seven years, retirement has to be a possibility in close future.

NASCAR is a results-driven sport amd his lone win over that span was at Phoenix in 2017. During that same period, the South Bend, Indiana native recorded just 22 top-five and 79 top-ten finishes. What will jump off the page at you is the number of starts – 249.

With a youth movement clearly underway in NASCAR’s Premier Series, one of the old guards in Newman will be forced to think about what is next. If this is his swansong with Roush Fenway Racing, don’t expect him to be a NASCAR hanger-on, driving for a smaller or less-funded team. He could easily move into television or, better yet, become an owner.     

Published 13 Jan 2021, 09:19 IST
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