When Kevin Harvick announced at the end of last season that he would be joining Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014, many wondered what that meant for SHR’s current lineup—would the organization expand to a four car team, or would one driver be pushed out to make room for Harvick?
Ryan Newman sure doesn’t like the answer.
Friday, SHR revealed that with Harvick coming in to pilot the new No. 4 car, the organization will be shutting down operation of the 39 team after 2013, and Newman will have to find new employment.
“We are not ready to expand to a fourth team,” SHR owner Tony Stewart told the media on Friday. “Unfortunately, this will be the last year that we have Ryan with us.”
Stewart expressed sadness over letting Newman go after 2013, citing his good off-track friendship with the Indiana native. While Newman noted that he doesn’t expect his relationship with Stewart to change, he also is looking realistically at the situation.
“I can’t say I’m happy with the way everything unfolded,” Newman said when asked for his reaction to the news. “I do not know what my future holds. That’s something that weighs on my shoulders and I have a little homework to do right now.”
No doubt Newman was hoping to stay with SHR, as there are few high quality rides available.
The biggest opening for next year is Harvick’s ride, the 29 car with Richard Childress Racing. But Newman probably won’t be the only candidate vying for a deal with RCR. Austin Dillon, Nationwide driver for RCR and Childress’ grandson, is poised to make the move to Sprint Cup as soon as next year, and should that pan out, Dillon will likely have top billing over any one else.
Additionally, Jeff Burton and Paul Menard are both set to continue with Childress in 2014 despite rumors to the contrary.
So what options does Newman have? It’s impossible to say at this point, and while opportunities seem limited in July, the employment landscape could change drastically before the season ends in November. Newman is keeping that in mind as he starts his job search.
“I’ve been really focused on this year and at this time of the season, the silly [season] gets even sillier,” he said. “You never know what becomes available.”