Stewart-Haas Racing; Ryan Newman Have Narrowed Their Options
As most predicted, Tony Stewart and Stewart Haas Racing’s announcement on Friday afternoon brought to a close at least two of the lingering mysteries surrounding the team’s future for 2009. Stewart announced that the side of his car next season would be labeled with the no. 14, previously made famous by his racing idol and longtime friend, AJ Foyt. They also announced that the second team car will carry the no. 4, which was the first car number Stewart raced with, way back when he was still racing Go-Karts.
Additionally, Stewart announced that the team has partnered with both Office Depot and Old Spice as the primary sponsor for the no. 14 next season. Old Spice, with whom Tony has had a long-standing relationship with in the Nationwide Series, will sponsor the car for 16 races, with Office Depot carrying the weight for the other 20. This deal seems to work well for both companies as Office Depot was unable to foot the bill that it would have cost them to return with Carl Edwards’ no. 99 team over at Roush-Fenway Racing in 2009, and it also gives Old Spice their break into the Sprint Cup Series.
Near the end of the press conference, Stewart was, of course, confronted with the question of who would drive the second car for Stewart Haas Racing in 2009.
“It’s about three guys right now,” Stewart said. “You look out there and there are not a lot of guys available to begin with that we think would fit the program. It’s down to three at most, and realistically two.”
About two hours after Stewart’s press conference, reporters also caught up with Ryan Newman, the alleged front-runner to drive what we now know is the no. 4 car. As you’d probably expect, Newman was fronted with similar questions pertaining to his future employer.
“One. I have it prett well narrowed down. For me right now, it’s more a matter of paperwork and finalizing everything before I can announced something,” Newman stated. “I don’t have a contract to drive anyplace right now, nothing on paper. I have offers and I am choosing the best one.”
Tony was also asked if he’d spoken with Newman how he felt about the car being numbered 4, to which Stewart responded, “I haven’t asked Ryan or the other two how they feel about any car numbers right now. It’s more about trying to figure out if they are going to be the right person for the organization and which one of them is really interested in us.”
Other drivers on or potentially on the free agent market thta are considered to be lead prospects for a move to Stewart Haas Racing include Martin Truex Jr. and Casey Mears. Truex is still working out his 2009 option and a possible extension with DEI, whereas Mears was recently released from Hendrick Motorsports for next season.
Newman, on the other hand, had previously stated that there were really only three options he was considering upon his departure from Penske Racing. Most people have believed those options to be Stewart Haas, the no. 33 car at Richard Childress Racing, or possibly even taking Stewart’s current ride, the no. 20 over at Joe Gibbs Racing. Most people believe, however, that the young Joey Logano is likely to wind up in the 20 car.