When the 2021 Cup Series season comes to an end, Ryan Newman will become a free agent. The veteran driver has no set plans for 2022, but he would like to run full-time for his 21st consecutive season. For now, however, he is simply focusing on living every day to the fullest.
The 2008 Daytona 500 champion made the comments to NBC Sports during a homecoming weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Newman explained that his perspective on life changed after the 2020 Daytona 500 crash that sent him to the hospital and kept him out of three races — Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Auto Club Speedway, and Phoenix Raceway.
“I say that every day now,” Newman told NBC Sports. “I mean literally after the stuff that happened, just live every day to the fullest.” Newman continued and explained how people struggling with bigger issues than a NASCAR contract have also played a significant role on his life.
“Don’t take this the wrong way, but I’ve seen enough people now that are going through cancer and the attitude that they have can be more powerful than the medicine that they’re taking. And I think that’s a big part of everyday life. You don’t have anything. There’s no guarantee to life. There’s a guarantee to death, and you should live every day like it’s going to be your last, and that’s all I’m really focused on. And I try to plan things out, but in the end, I’m trying to maintain a good attitude with the people around me and the situation I’ve got and go forward and whatever happens will happen.”
Newman Still Has Options With Roush Fenway Racing
On July 20, Roush Fenway Racing held a press conference to officially introduce Brad Keselowski as the new driver of the No. 6 for the 2022 season. The team confirmed that the 2012 Cup Series champion would take over for Newman and would also take on a role as a minority owner.
This conference immediately created questions about Newman’s future in the Cup Series, and team president Steve Newmark used the presser to provide further information. Newmark explained that he and Keselowski had originally discussed expanding to a three-car team to keep Newman in the fold. The rising costs of charters played a role in the decision to remain a two-car operation, but Roush Fenway provided Newman with a different option.
“Ryan Newman has done everything we have asked of him. We have been unbelievably appreciative of his efforts,” Newmark said, per RFR. “We have been in conversations about a part-time role, but he is still deciding on his plans for 2022.”
Newman addressed this possibility to NBC Sports. He explained that he would like to run full-time during the 2022 Cup Series season with the “right team” and the right people. However, he does not know what is currently available as the end of the season approaches.
Newman Has Limited Free Agent Options Amid Silly Season
While the veteran driver has expressed interest in running full-time in 2022, he may not have many options. There are a limited number of available seats, especially after Ross Chastain officially became the second driver for Trackhouse Racing.
Heading toward the playoffs, there are a few teams with openings. Stewart-Haas Racing driver Aric Almirola is heading toward free agency. He could rejoin the team or head to another destination. Similarly, JTG Daugherty Racing drivers Ryan Preece and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are both currently heading toward free agency. The team has an option to keep Stenhouse for another year but has yet to activate it.
There are multiple other teams that will make the leap to the Cup Series in 2022, but they have not revealed critical details. Kaulig Racing will have two cars — one with Justin Haley as the full-time driver and another with AJ Allmendinger as a part-time driver. The Xfinity Series team hasn’t revealed the identity of the other driver or drivers that will join Allmendinger.
Truck Series team GMS Racing will move to Cup but has yet to provide information about the number of races or the driver. Similarly, reports surfaced on Thursday, Aug. 12, that another full-time Truck Series team will move to Cup with the support of Toyota Racing Development. The outlet reported that an announcement could take place in the coming days.
There is no guarantee that any of these teams will consider Newman as an option for the 2022 season. These newcomers to Cup could look to other drivers and use the seats as a method for grooming younger competitors. Though Newman would provide an intriguing option if they went the veteran route.