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Newman Still Wants 2020 Championship

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, February 23 2020

Ryan Newman, who was involved in a horrific wreck at Daytona on Monday, still has goals for this season.(Photo courtesy of Roush Fenway Racing)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Ryan Newman’s goals for the 2020 NASCAR Cup season remain unchanged, but when the Indiana native will return to his No. 6 Ford has yet to be determined, Roush Fenway Racing President Steve Newmark said Sunday. 

“His objective is to win the 2020 Cup championship, so, hopefully, that gives you a little insight into his mindset,” Newmark said during a press conference.

“The reality is there are three groups that are going to dictate when he returns because he has expressed unequivocally that this is where he wants to be and he wants to be back in a race car. Those three groups are gonna be Ryan and his family, his doctors, and then NASCAR and their medical team. Our assumption is once all three of those sign off, then we’ll see him back in a race car.”

Newman’s horrifying crash Monday night in the closing seconds of the Daytona 500 left him with a head injury. He didn’t suffer any internal injuries or broken bones. In a statement released Sunday, Newman cited the excellent care he received at Halifax Medical Center as instrumental in his recovery and also thanked NASCAR executives for everything they provided for him and his family. Ross Chastain substituted for Newman at Las Vegas and Newmark said “our arrangement with Ross is if we need him, he should be available.” 

Newmark said he couldn’t detail Newman’s injuries because of HIPAA and other medical privacy laws, but the Roush Fenway Racing driver would address them when he returned.

“He’s kind of chomping at the bit to get back here and I think he feels that would be most appropriate for him to be behind the mic answering a lot of those questions,” Newmark said.

However, Newmark noted it was “refreshing” to be in the hospital room listening to Newman’s family make fun of him for having no neck and for just being completely thick.  

“And there is truth to the rumor that when he heard there were donuts down in the room where we were all congregated that he asked his dad to confiscate some and bring them back up to his room,” Newmark said.    

In recounting the sequence of events Monday night, Newmark said he and team co-owner Jack Roush were in Chris Buescher’s pit when Newman’s wreck occurred. At first they were headed towards Newman’s mangled car, but when they were told the driver was being taken directly to the hospital they changed course.  

“We actually got to the hospital and had to grab a police officer on a motorcycle when we were trying to get out of the track because we were stuck and he gave us a nice opening and ride to the hospital,” Newmark said. “(When) we got there (NASCAR’s) Matt Humphrey was … already coordinating logistics. (NASCAR Vice Chairman) Mike Helton showed up soon after, but we were actually there before Ryan got there and Jack’s focus the whole time was … kind of more crisis mode, we need to make sure we’re supporting the family, we need to make sure everything is arranged at the hospital, does he have all the medical care. That was really the dialogue throughout the night and then, quite frankly, we were on pins and needles, as I’m sure many of you were, waiting for that first indication that it wasn’t life threatening.  

“The way that it played out is the doctors spoke with Greg Newman, Ryan’s dad, and then Greg immediately conveyed that to us and then probably within a minute after that is when we put out the statement just to make sure that the fans understood that as well.”

Newmark said that once it had been determined that Newman’s injuries were not life threatening, there was a meeting to decide who to put in Newman’s car for the Las Vegas race. Chip Ganassi, who still has Chastain under contract, and Chevrolet U.S. Vice President of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports Jim Campbell were contacted Tuesday morning. Even though Chastain had never driven a Roush Fenway car, Newmark said they believed he “had the right demeanor and the right character to be able to handle this.”

Newman’s team worked around the clock to get ready for Las Vegas and the injured driver helped them with their preparations.

“He was on the phone with Scott Graves, his crew chief, calling him because I think he was watching practice,” Newmark said. “I believe he’s talked to Ross, so he has been very active in trying to be involved in the direction of the team.”

Newmark also expects Newman to be involved in the safety critique of his car.

“The people of NASCAR have been phenomenal,” Newmark said. “They’ve given access to our organization, our engineers to go over and look at the car, offered it to Ryan.  

“I think everybody … knows that Ryan has been an advocate of driver safety for many years.  He uses his engineering degree and is very vocal, so I have no doubt that he’ll be in the middle of that.  

“It’s an ongoing effort to continue to improve the safety, but from my perspective it’s a testament to the safety that less than 48 hours he was able to walk away after that accident and the reality is most sports have injury reports every week. The reason we don’t is that it’s pretty rare that we actually have an injury in this sport.”

 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, February 23 2020
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