Roush Fenway Racing confirmed on Tuesday, July 20, that Brad Keselowski will take over the No. 6 Ford Mustang for the 2022 season as part of his new driver-owner role. The team also confirmed that Ryan Newman will be a free agent barring a decision to stick around in a part-time role. The NASCAR Cup Series veteran has told reporters that he wants to pursue a championship, but there may not be many options for him considering the sizable free-agent class.
Of the available spots, multiple belong to teams that work with Chevrolet. Trackhouse Racing is currently seeking another driver after purchasing Chip Ganassi Racing’s NASCAR operations. There are multiple men in contention for this seat, including top options in Kurt Busch and Ross Chastain. However, Newman could serve as an experienced veteran to pair with Daniel Suarez.
The current driver of the No. 6 has 711 Cup Series starts to his name, as well as 18 career wins. With his experience and an engineering degree from Purdue, Newman could help Trackhouse Racing transition to the next generation of stock cars while providing helps tips to Suarez.
Newman Could Reunite With a Former Teammate
A former driver for Richard Childress Racing, Newman joined forces with Roush Fenway Racing at the start of the 2019 season. He climbed into the No. 6 Ford Mustang and became teammates with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. The two men spent one season together before RFR unceremoniously cut ties with Stenhouse in favor of Chris Buescher.
While Stenhouse and Newman only briefly worked together, there is a scenario where they become teammates once again. JTG Daugherty Racing currently fields two cars in the Cup Series, albeit with only one charter. Stenhouse drives the No. 47 Chevrolet Camaro while Ryan Preece drives the charterless No. 37 Chevrolet Camaro.
Both Preece and Stenhouse will become free agents at the end of the 2021 season, forcing JTG Daugherty to make difficult decisions about which — if either — driver to bring back for 2022. Stenhouse is currently 21st in points while Preece is 26th. Neither will make the playoffs barring a surprise win in the final four regular-season races, and only one Chevrolet will have a guaranteed spot in all 36 races.
If JTG Daugherty opts to only bring back Stenhouse for the 2022 season, the team could look to Newman as a potential replacement for Preece. The veteran driver has a long list of partners that could help provide funding for a full season, a list that includes Oscar Mayer, Castrol, Coca-Cola, and Kohler. For comparison, NBC Sports reported that Preece only had enough funding for 24 races prior to the season’s start.
Adding Newman to the fold in place of Preece doesn’t guarantee that he will have the opportunity to start all 36 races. JTG Daugherty would still lack the necessary charter. However, he could potentially bring a long list of partners to the organization to kickstart the next generation.
Newman Could Move to the Toyota Family
While Newman primarily drives a Ford, he has spent time in a variety of manufacturers. He worked with both Ford and Dodge during his Team Penske days (2000-2008) and then controlled a Chevrolet during stints with Stewart-Haas Racing (2009-2013) and Richard Childress Racing (2014-2018). However, he has not competed in a Toyota in the Cup Series.
While there are a limited number of seats available considering the size of the free-agent class, Newman could land a spot due to work with a younger teammate. One such example is 23XI Racing, the Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan co-owned team.
Hamlin has reiterated throughout the 2021 season that the goal is to expand to two cars ahead of 2022. There is no guarantee that 23XI will achieve this goal, but the team is continuing to create headlines with free agency rumors.
According to a report by Jordan Bianchi of “The Athletic,” Kurt Busch is currently the “top option” to join Bubba Wallace in the 23XI Racing Stable. However, the 2004 Cup Series champion has multiple suitors considering his ability to contend for wins and a spot in the playoffs.
If Busch opts to stick with Trackhouse Racing or another team, Newman could become another option. He is a veteran with a multitude of starts on his career resume, and he has experienced the highs and terrifying lows of stock car racing. His guidance and knowledge of vehicle setups could benefit Wallace in the long run.
With 14 races remaining in the 2021 season, there is plenty of time for Newman to find his next destination. He could land with any of the aforementioned teams, or he could be left on the outside looking in after other drivers sign deals. For now, he will focus on competing in the No. 6 while he still can.