What happened: In an oddly timed social media post — in the minutes following Saturday’s final practice — Ryan Newman announced he will not return to Richard Childress Racing and the No. 31 car after five years with the team. Newman had one win with the team and made the playoffs three times, notably finishing second in the inaugural season of the one-race playoff format.
What it means: Newman likely either already knows where he’s going or has a good idea of his options. There are quite a few open rides now that the Silly Season dam has burst, including the No. 6 at Roush Fenway Racing and the No. 95 at Leavine Family Racing (depending on what Daniel Suarez does now that Martin Truex Jr. is reportedly heading to the current No. 19). It seems likely Newman would be able to bring at least some sponsorship with him — he’s had a half-dozen different companies on his car this season — so that may help his prospects. He’s still only 40 years old, which means he should have at least a few solid years left in him. And despite being under the radar most weeks, Newman still often brings consistent performances to a team.
News value (scale of 1-10): Four. This move was widely expected and is mostly a confirmation instead of a surprise. It would be bigger, obviously, if we knew where he was headed.
Three questions: Which driver will Childress hire for the now-vacant No. 31 car? Will Newman’s next team be a step down in competition level, or will he still have a chance to be a playoff driver? How much longer does Newman want to race?