There is no doubt Ryan Newman is a good driver. He has 50 career poles, which is 9th all-time and his 17 career wins is 14th among active drivers. By all accounts he's a pretty good guy. He has a beautiful wife, two adorable kids, and he has never been in any real trouble. And he is obviously smart, he has an engineering degree from Purdue University.
Apparently, in the NASCAR world that's not enough. As of right now, Newman doesn't have a job for next season.
But like that annoying Seinfeld character with which he shares a name, Newman refuses to be ignored. A win this past weekend, puts him right back into 'Chase for the Championship' contention. He is relevant in the sport. And not in a manufactured by the media and sponsor machine relevant, like his soon to be ex-teammate Danica Patrick. Newman is relevant, because he can drive.
"I got fired a couple weeks ago, come back here, win the pole, win the race," said Newman. "The emotions have been an absolute rollercoaster. That weekend off I think was good timing, to be able to hit control, alt, delete. (Crew Chief) Matt (Borland) did an amazing job to come here with a fast racecar, give me what I needed. We all did it together. "
Let me just mention the last time Tony Stewart fired someone mid-season, they went on the win the Championship. Not that I think Newman's 39 team will do that this season, they actually have a tough road just to get into the Chase. Though it is possible. But I think Newman will be fine.
But is a sad commentary on the state of the sport. Drivers like Danica Patrick and Paul Menard will always have a good car, because they have a good sponsor in their back pocket. It doesn't matter what they do on the track.
Patrick is currently 26th in points. She is 24 points behind Denny Hamlin in 25th. Hamlin missed four races this season because of an injury and by his own admission has been pretty bad since he came back.
And Menard, while a better driver than Patrick, still doesn't have near the credentials of Newman. He is in his seventh full-time season, has just one victory and his best points finish is 16th. What other driver with that resume could get into a ride the level of Richard Childress Racing? Just ask David Reutiman or David Regan.
It's too bad that in racing it seems to becoming more about how your face looks on a magazine, then about what you actually do in a race car. But then again, it's like that in the real world a lot too.
Newman will find a ride for next season, and hopefully it will be a good car. He has run well enough to earn that, and if owners and sponsors actually care about running well, he will.