Ryan Newman Returns to NASCAR Cup Series

Getty Ryan Newman will make his return to the NASCAR Cup Series.

Ryan Newman last suited up for a NASCAR Cup Series race in the 2021 season finale at Phoenix Raceway. He will now make his return for more starts while joining a new team.

According to a May 5 announcement, The Rocket Man will join Rick Ware Racing for a limited schedule. He will make his first start of the Next Gen era on Sunday, May 14, at Darlington Raceway. He will then return for other select events in 2023.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to work with Rick Ware Racing and Ford,” Newman said in a press release. “I think this will be good for all of us with our combined experience and knowledge.

“Being part of the Throwback Weekend at one of my favorite tracks in Darlington is pretty special. After recently being named one of NASCAR’s 75 Greatest Drivers, it carries even some significance.”

Newman Has Extensive Experience at Darlington Raceway

Ryan Newman

GettyRyan Newman prepares for a race at Dover International Speedway.

As one of NASCAR’s 75 Greatest Drivers, Newman was already set to attend the Goodyear 400 for a special ceremony. Now, he will do so in a firesuit while preparing to make another start at The Lady in Black.

Newman has extensive experience at Darlington Raceway split between multiple teams. He has made 26 starts in the Cup Series, and he has secured 14 top-10 finishes and seven top-fives. A runner-up behind Jeff Gordon in 2002 stands out as his best career finish at the South Carolina track.

Newman will now make his 27th start, albeit with a twist. He will take on the track for the first time in a Next Gen Ford Mustang. This will provide an extra level of difficulty as he tries to get up to speed in a unique vehicle. Though Newman has shown an ability to contend in different generations of cars while stacking up 18 career Cup Series wins.

Newman Could Potentially Pass Another Driver on an All-Time List

GettyRyan Newman watches qualifying at Darlington Raceway in 2014.

A full-time driver between 2002 and 2021, Newman made 725 total starts in the Cup Series. This put him 16th on the all-time list, but he will now have an opportunity to move up another spot.

Rick Ware Racing has not revealed Newman’s full schedule, and it is unclear how many starts he will make for the team. The trip to Darlington Raceway will be his 726th start in the Cup Series, which will move him one spot closer to Hall of Famer Bobby Labonte.

The former Joe Gibbs Racing driver retired after making 729 starts at the top level of NASCAR, and he is in sole possession of 15th place on the all-time starts list. If Newman makes four starts for RWR in 2023, he will tie Labonte. Five starts will move him ahead.

Whether this happens remains to be seen. For now, the focus will be on how Newman adapts to the Next Gen car as he makes his return to the NASCAR Cup Series at one of its most difficult tracks.

“I remember watching ‘Thursday Night Thunder’ on ESPN and seeing Ryan compete against some stout competition in those days,” said team owner Rick Ware. “I became a fan then and when he first came to NASCAR, I knew he was going to be a great driver and win a lot of races.

“He brings great depth and insight to RWR while we continue to grow our team. Ryan’s been a great ambassador for our sport and Ford. We’re really looking forward to racing with him this season.”

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