Yesterday, Ryan Newman and owner Roger Penske ended their nine-year partnership. Yet another domino in, by far, the craziest Silly Season in NASCAR history.
Newman announced earlier this year he would be leaving the No. 12 Dodge if performance, which has been severely lacking since 2006 and got worse when crew chief Matt Borland left, didn't improve. Apparently, it hasn't.
It wasn't too long ago that the Rocket man had a pole ratio of one every three races, and averaged at least one win a year. However, Newman failed to win races in 2006 and 2007.
The current rumor is that Ryan Newman has a firm deal from Stewart-Haas to drive the UPS Chevrolet, but the South Bend, Indiana native is also reportedly in talks with both Joe Gibbs and Richard Childress Racing. While he has stated he has an opportunity at ownership, can anyone figure out where that would be?
With Penske, Newman won Rookie of the Year honors in 2002 and won eight races in his sophomore season. He has 13 total wins, 63 top fives, and 105 top 10s.
Newman also has 42 poles, and broke Davey Allison's rookie record of six in their first full season. Ironically enough, Tony Stewart broke Allison's record of most wins by a rookie. Just thought I'd throw that comparison out for you.
Roger Penske said in a statement Monday he was thankful for all his driver had done for the team, and that a replacement would be named shortly. Indianapolis, anyone?
In a Silly Season for the ages, Newman's move could determine the fate of Martin Truex, Jr., Casey Mears, and others.
Martin Truex, Jr. has been rumored to be leaving DEI, possibly taking sponsor Bass Pro Shops with him to a third Stewart-Haas team. New rumors also have him going to Penske, the fourth RCR car, or even being forced to stay with his current team.
Casey Mears' future may also depend on Newman. It's unclear whether he or Penske test driver David Stremme will take over the Altell Dodge next season, but Mears has expressed interest in getting in a car guaranteed in the field.
What's that leave? Joey Logano is basically guaranteed the Home Depot Toyota in 2009 according to statements made by the team Saturday, and the No. 33 of Childress won't be guaranteed in, due to the fact that it did not run this year.
Is Penske going to take a chance on Stremme, who is not only winless in Cup, but also has just three top 10s and no top fives? Will Reed Sorenson get his contract extension—and what happens to him if he doesn't? What will Ryan Newman, Martin Truex, Jr., and Casey Mears do next?
Wait a minute! I thought Smoke's decision would solve our problems...