The NASCAR Cup Series drivers head to Kansas Speedway on Sunday for the Buschy McBusch Race 400. This outing presents another opportunity for a playoff-hopeful to achieve his dreams, but it also serves as a major milestone for Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Newman. The veteran will make his 700th career start.
Prior to Sunday’s race, the driver of the No. 6 Ford Mustang sat down to discuss reaching his major milestone. He explained that his career started with a loss and that he didn’t think he would reach 700 races. Newman also clarified that reaching this point of his career meant that he had some serious laps on his resume.
“My 700th start means I’m old,” Newman said in a video. “That’s ok. It’s a milestone, no doubt, it just says that I’m experienced. That I’ve lost more than I’ve won just like everyone else in this sport. It’s pretty cool to be doing something and still be doing something that I’m passionate about.”
Newman made his first start during the 2000 season
A future 18-time winner in the top series, Newman first got behind the wheel of a Cup Series car for a race at Phoenix. He completed 176 of the 312 laps but multiple mechanical problems disrupted his day. Newman finished at the rear of the pack while driving the No. 2 for Team Penske.
“If I go back and look at my first start, which was a horrible day, we started 10th at Phoenix in 2000,” Newman said. “We finished 42nd. Had the brakes locking up on the race car because they didn’t have the pedals set right. Caught a windshield tear-off and melted the engine down, and therefore, had a DNF. So my first start was a DNF. My second race, I won the pole.”
Based on his first career start, Newman explained that he did not think that he would be around for 700 total races. However, he was able to tie Buddy Baker on the all-time starts list. “The King” Richard Petty still holds the top spot with 1,185 starts. Ricky Rudd sits in second place with 902.
Newman has been very successful since his first start
While the first outing in 2000 did not end well for the veteran driver, he has since gone on to accumulate several wins. Newman has 18 wins in his career, as well as 116 top-five finishes. Newman reached Victory Lane for the first time in 2002, capturing the checkered flag in the New Hampshire 300.
One year after winning his first race, Newman turned in the best season of his career. He won eight races during the 2003 season, including victories at Texas Motor Speedway and Kansas, the site of Sunday’s Buschy McBusch Race 400. He finished the year sixth in points after failing to finish seven races. The veteran driver went on to capture two Crown Jewel races. He won the 2008 Daytona 500 and the 2013 Brickyard 400.
Newman’s last race took place during a 2017 trip to Phoenix. He took a major gamble during the final caution, staying out on the track on worn tires while nearly every other driver on the lead lap went to the pits for fresh tires. He led the final six laps and took the checkered flag for Richard Childress Racing.
Newman has not returned to Victory Lane since the Phoenix race in 2017, but he has continued to contend for wins. He has four top-five finishes since the 2017 season, including fifth in the dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway.