Ryan Newman has felt the friends-and-family squeeze before — at the end of the 2013 season, to be precise.
Kevin Harvick — best buds with Tony Stewart — was a Stewart-Haas Racing add-on for the 2014 season. Somebody needed to go. That would be Newman.
“There are a lot of things to be considered, but I was sincere when I said I want to be someplace where I’m wanted,” Newman said then before signing with Richard Childress Racing.
Will he be wanted at Childress when his contract expires at the end of this season?
The answer is probably no, unless the team manages to bump its field from a three-driver operation to four. Ty Dillon, Richard Childress’ grandson, is a rising star in the sport. He is third in the Xfinity Series standings and is on target to move up to the top Sprint Cup level next season, joining his brother Austin Dillon and Paul Menard on the team.
Somebody would need to go. That would likely be Newman.
“We’re not looking at anything right now,” Childress told NBCSports.com. “We’ve got to focus and focus hard on trying to go out and win races. That’s our No. 1 focus right now.”
“I always use this old saying that Dale Earnhardt gave us: ‘It’s not always the fastest car that wins. It’s who wants it the worst,’” Childress said at the time. “And I think Ryan wants that championship the worst.”
Perhaps, but he still shows no signs of championship pedigree. He is 18th in points this season, a few notches below the Chase postseason cutoff line of 16.
But he hasn’t won a race in three seasons and, in a personality-driven sport in which performance is only part of the buzz, Newman rarely moves the needle. He is a good, dependable driver who won’t embarrass the brand. Will that be enough?
“I’ll keep doing this as long as somebody wants me to do it and it’s fun doing it,” Newman said.
Childress Racing could use a game-changer. The team last won a Sprint Cup race in 2013 when Harvick was on board. Newman is never going to be a game-changer. He has three top 10s in 12 races this season.
Newman may have a wild card in his sponsor, Caterpillar. Newman said the deal with Caterpillar is “a long-term contract,” which would factor into the decision to switch to four cars instead of switching drivers.
Torrey Galida, president of Childress, told Motorsport.com that the team will not dawdle when it comes to setting its lineup for next season.
“We’ll start moving on that fairly quickly,” Galida said. “I just can’t discuss the details. Our goal is to put Ty in a fourth car. That’s what we’re working on. We have a good relationship with all of our car partners.”
Teresa Earnhardt won’t back down
Teresa Earnhardt and her legal team are escalating the war of words over the Earnhardt brand. Don’t expect a happy family reunion any time soon.
Earnhardt’s attorneys have issued some clarification involving her reasons for the legal scrum involving her stepson, Kerry Earnhardt, and it only seems to foster more confusion and controversy over rights to a name.
“The naming of any project called ‘Earnhardt Collection’ causes confusion as being associated with Dale Earnhardt, as the Dale Earnhardt brands and marks are so diverse across multiple industries and philanthropic causes. ... [And it] could be used to exclude Dale Earnhardt Inc., the designated steward of Dale’s legacy, from the same use,” law firm Alston & Bird said in its statement to ESPN.com.
“By not coordinating these [trademark] activities rightfully, these individuals and entities fail to recognize the true legacy of Dale Earnhardt.”
Teresa is suing Kerry, Dale’s oldest son, for using the Earnhardt name in a business venture. Kerry, who once gave it a go at racing as well, wants to market and promote a line of homes and furniture called the “Earnhardt Collection.”
Teresa has filed an appeal in federal court after she was shot down by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The family spat has gone viral in NASCAR country, with a vast majority of fans turning on Teresa. Fact is, they haven’t been very warm to her since the death of her husband 15 years ago after a crash on the last lap of the Daytona 500.
Viewed as icy, distant and calculating, Teresa is getting crushed on social media. One fan labeled her the “Cruella De Vil of NASCAR.”
Since Dale’s death, Teresa has owned the rights to Dale Earnhardt Inc., a business entity that used to include a racing team that eventually disbanded in another Teresa-centric skirmish involving the departure of stepson Dale Earnhardt Jr.
A settlement in this deal seems unlikely, even though Kerry Earnhardt and his wife are open to the idea.
“The parties have to date been unable to settle their dispute. Further mediation would not be fruitful,” say court documents filed by Teresa’s representatives.
The NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race always has some gimmicky elements tied into the $1-million prize.
This year’s race, scheduled for Saturday night at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, will include a random draw that will decide whether the top nine, 10 or 11 cars will be mandated to enter pit road for a four-tire stop between segments 2 and 3.
The entire format includes two 50-lap segments with mandatory green-flag pit stops. It ends with a 13-lap final sprint segment. The goal is to set up a frantic finish.
“I just wanted to see the race be something that I would want to watch if I was a fan and something that I would want to be proud of if I was the driver that won it,” said Brad Keselowski, who reached out to other drivers about revising the format.
“Quite honestly, I didn’t feel like the formats of the past few years were that way. So when sitting down and kind of going over it all, I kind of had this overarching theme that I think our sport is best when at the end of the day we have what I call common winds, where everybody is happy. Those are easy to say, hard to do, but I think they’re out there.”