Two prominent figures heading toward the offseason are Ryan Newman and Matt DiBenedetto. Both drivers will be free agents after losing their respective rides at Roush Fenway Racing and Wood Brothers Racing. Now, however, another option could potentially surface in Rick Ware Racing.
Team owner Rick Ware met with media members on Sunday, October 10, to announce that RWR will be part of the Ford Performance family and will partner with both Stewart-Haas Racing and Roush-Yates engines in 2022. Per media member Lee Spencer, Ware also revealed during this media session that he has spoken to both Newman and DiBenedetto and that “the conversations are open.”
Ware also spoke about the future lineup of the team, saying that he has already sponsorship for two cars. He fielded four cars during the 2021 season, but he does not anticipate having as many in 2022. Per FOX Sports reporter Bob Pockrass, Ware has yet to decide if he will even run a third car or simply focus on two.
Conversations Don’t Guarantee Contracts, Especially in Silly Season
While Ware did have conversations with DiBenedetto and Newman, this does not mean that fans should prepare to preorder any merchandise. There is no guarantee that these conversations will actually lead to contracts for the 2022 season.
Ware still has several decisions to make before he will reveal the driver lineup for 2022. Chief among them is whether to move forward with two or three Next Gen cars. He owns three Cup Series charters while the fourth is a joint agreement between RWR and Richard Petty Motorsports.
Ware told NBC Sports in May 2021 that running three cars was an option and that he would “be inclined” to lease one of the charters. Ware added that he had some options on the table for leases, especially with several groups on the hunt for a charter, and that the deals could include more than money.
“I think there are maybe some opportunities there to maybe assist some manufacturers that maybe want other people to come in,” Ware told NBC Sports. “Right now, I’m trying to negotiate the best road for RWR and that may be leasing to somebody in particular that helps the program from a technology share, those kind of things.”
Now that RWR has reached a technical alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing, a team that already has four charters, this type of deal is not really an option. Instead, Ware would have to find a different suitor for the leased charter.
DiBenedetto & Newman Would Bring Considerable Experience
The 2021 lineup at Rick Ware Racing featured younger drivers with fewer than 100 starts in the Cup Series. Cody Ware has made 51 starts since 2017 but has never started a full season while Joey Gase has made 86 starts. Garrett Smithley (67 starts), Josh Bilicki (67 starts), and James Davison (35 starts) round out the list of main drivers.
DiBenedetto, on the other hand, has 244 Cup Series starts spread out over seven seasons. He made 68 starts with BK Racing in 2015-2016, 72 with Go Fas Racing in 2017-2018, 36 with Leavine Family Racing in 2019, and he will end his two-year Wood Brothers Racing tenure with 72 total starts. DiBenedetto has not won during his Cup Series career, but he has nine top-five finishes, 31 top-10s, and a playoff appearance in 2020.
Newman has not won since the 2017 season, but the “Rocket Man” has achieved a considerable amount in his career that spans 22 years. He has won 18 times and posted 117 top-five finishes. He also finished second overall in the 2014 season behind champion Kevin Harvick.
While Newman’s best years as a driver are behind him, he could bring his wealth of knowledge and experience to a team fighting to contend with Team Penske, Joe Gibbs Racing, and Hendrick Motorsports. He has an engineering degree from Purdue and 721 Cup Series starts to his name.
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