Ryan Newman is an American stock car racing driver who currently competes with Richard Childress Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series, driving the #31 Chevrolet SS. He joined RCR in 2014, reaching a peak of his career that year with second place in the final standings of the Cup Series.
Newman's first full season in the Cup Series was 2002. Since then, he recorded more than 580 starts, 51 pole positions and 18 victories. His greatest win was at Daytona 500 in 2008. He also has eight wins in other two NASCAR national divisions.
Midget champion at the beginning of a career
Born in December 1977 in South Bend, Indiana, Ryan Joseph Newman made his racing debut in 1993, entering the midget competitions of the United Midget Auto Racing Association and the All-American Midget Series. He was a champion in his rookie season. He moved to USAC-sanctioned competitions in 1995, taking the championship title in the 1999 USAC Silver Bullet Series and finishing second in the 1999 USAC National Midget Series.
NASCAR Cup Series debut in 2000
In 2000, parallel to his commitments in the USAC championships, Newman made a debut in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, driving the #02 Ford for Roger Penske at the Phoenix International Raceway in November. He also made five starts in the ARCA Racing Series, winning three times.
In 2001, he stayed with Penske to make two starts in the ARCA Racing Series (one victory), fifteen starts in the NASCAR Busch Series (one victory) and seven starts in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. The highlight of the season was the second place in the Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway.
Ryan Newman scored his maiden NASCAR victory in 2002
Maiden Cup Series win at New Hampshire in 2002
In 2002, Newman became a full-time driver in the #12 Ford, recording four second-place finishes before he manages to win his first Cup Series race. It was the New Hampshire 300 in September, where he started from pole and converted it to his maiden victory. He was on a pole six times during a season, breaking the rookie record. At the end of the season, he was sixth in the final standings and the Rookie of the Year.
'Rocket Man' scored eight wins in the 2003 Cup Series season
In 2003, Newman stayed in the #12 car but switched from Ford to Dodge. He scored series-high eight victories and finished 22 times in the Top 10. But, his overall result was ruined by seven DNFs, which left him just sixth in the final points. He was in a pole position eleven times, earning the nickname 'Rocket Man'.
Ryan Newman was a winner eight times in 2003 in the #12 Dodge
Six wins in the 2005 Busch Series
In 2004, the Chase for the Cup championship format was introduced. He qualified for the inaugural Chase and finished the season seventh in points, scoring two wins and nine poles. Newman qualified for the Chase again in 2005, finishing the season sixth in the points with one victory and eight poles.
In 2005, Newman returned to the NASCAR Busch Series after a four-year absence. Driving the #39 Dodge, he participated in nine races and scored six victories. Later in a career, Newman was occasionally returning to the series until 2012 but scored no wins.
2006 and 2007 – two seasons without Cup Series wins
In the Cup Series, the season 2006 was his first year without wins and he finished a career-worst 18th in the final standings. He was on a pole two times and scored two Top 5 results.
In 2007, Newman improved his results, scoring five poles and seven Top 5 results, but he was again without wins. He was 13th in the final standings of the Cup Series.
Kissing the winner at 2008 Daytona 500
Victory at 2008 Daytona 500
Newman's winless drought ended in February 2008 with a victory in the greatest NASCAR's race, the Daytona 500. It was also the first Daytona 500 win for Penske.
Later in the season, Newman's results were disappointing and he finished 17th in the final points. During the season, he had just one pole and eight Top 10 results. It was his last season with Penske.
Truck Series victory in the first attempt
In 2008, Newman also made a debut in the NASCAR Truck Series, driving the #2 Chevrolet for Kevin Harvick's team at Atlanta Motor Speedway in October.
Newman scored a victory in his first Truck Series start, which also remained his only Truck Series win in a career. In the following years, he recorded just five more Truck Series starts, the last one in 2015, always finishing in the Top 5.
Ryan Newman spent five seasons in the #39 Chevrolet
Five seasons with Stewart-Haas Racing
In 2009, Ryan Newman moved to the #39 Stewart-Haas Racing's Chevrolet. He needed more than forty races to score his first win with the team. He was without wins in 2009 and then triumphed at Phoenix in April 2010.
He stayed with Stewart-Haas Racing for three more seasons, scoring one victory in each season. He won at New Hampshire (2011), Martinsville (2012) and Indianapolis (2013). In five seasons with SHR, Newman's best season's result was 9th place in 2009.
In four seasons with RCR, Newman has won just once, in 2017 at Phoenix
Joining Richard Childress Racing in 2014
In 2014, Newman has moved to Richard Childress Racing, starting to drive the #31 Chevrolet. Despite not winning races, it became his most successful season in terms of final result, as he finished second in the Chase for the Cup, behind his SHR replacement Kevin Harvick.
In the following two seasons, Newman didn't manage to bring the #31 Chevrolet into the Victory Lane, collecting seven Top 5 results. Finally, in March 2017, he won the race at Phoenix International Raceway, his first in the #31 RCR Chevrolet and 18th Cup Series win in a career.