RYAN NEWMAN: Driver, No. 31 Chevrolet
Birthdate: Dec. 8, 1977
Hometown: South Bend, Ind.
Residence: Statesville, N.C.
Children: Brooklyn Sage and Ashlyn Olivia
Twitter: @RCR31RNewman (team), @RyanJNewman (personal)
Hobbies: Vintage cars, farming, hunting and fishing
Ryan Newman embarks on his second season with Richard Childress Racing driving the No. 31 Caterpillar/Quicken Loans/Grainger/WIX Filters Chevrolet SS in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
In his debut season with RCR in 2014, Newman impressed the field by turning what was to be a year of rebuilding into a championship-contending performance. Only one point separated Newman from the coveted Cup title and signified a career-best finish in the Cup point standings for the 37-year-old race car driver.
Looking to earn one position better in 2015, Newman kicks off his 14th-full season in NASCAR’s premier division with crew chief Luke Lambert and team.
While most four-year-old boys rode big wheels for fun, Newman climbed behind the wheel of a quarter midget and never looked back. His open-wheel career started in 1983 when he drove in his first quarter midget race at New Carlisle, Ind., and through the course of several seasons, he won more than 100 features, six regional championships and the 1988 Grand National Quarter Midget championship in the Heavy Mod division.
In 1993, Newman switched to full-sized midgets in the All-American Midget Series. He quickly made a name for himself by becoming the first driver to win both Rookie of the Year honors and the series championship in the same season. Success continued leading to the Michigan State Midget championship and induction into the Quarter Midget Hall of Fame.
Newman made the move to the United States Auto Club (USAC) in 1995 and in back-to-back seasons captured Rookie of the Year honors in the National Midget and Silver Crown Series. His first major USAC victory came in the prestigious “Night Before the 500” race at Lucas Oil Raceway in 1997.
In 1999, Newman balanced books as a vehicle-structure engineering student at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., while continuing to be a very active racer. He went on to become the first driver to win all three USAC National Rookie of the Year honors in the same year along with capturing the Silver Crown title.
The following year, Newman still competed in all three USAC national series, but started to switch gears when he signed with Team Penske to test their stock cars and drove a limited schedule in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards and the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Besides earning victories in the USAC National Midget and Sprint Car Series, he captured his first stock car win in just his second ARCA outing at Pocono Raceway and backed it up with two more wins before making his Sprint Cup Series debut in November at Phoenix International Raceway.
In 2001, Newman’s schedule consisted of ARCA, XFINITY and Sprint Cup Series events. He won the season-opener Daytona International Speedway ARCA race and scored his first pole at Kansas Speedway. In XFINITY Series competition, he won at Michigan International Speedway and earned six pole awards. In NASCAR’s premier series, Newman kept pace and earned his first career pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May and also added two top-five finishes.
Newman’s first full season in Sprint Cup Series competition arrived in 2002. He set rookie records for most top-10 finishes (22) and pole awards (six) in a season. He also became only the second rookie to win the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race at Charlotte. Four months later, he scored his first Cup victory from the pole at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He finished out the season sixth in the championship point standings to earn the Rookie of the Year title over Jimmie Johnson.
The “Rocket Man” nickname held true in 2003 as he continued to lead the series in most poles with 11 and more importantly, won eight races, the most of any driver that year en route to another sixth-place finish in the standings. Post-season honors included the 2003 SPEED Driver of the Year, the National Motorsports Press Association Richard Petty Driver of the Year, the Benny Kahn/Daytona Beach News-Journal Driver of the Year and The Sporting News’Dale Earnhardt Toughest Driver of the Year.
Newman successfully earned a berth in NASCAR’s inaugural Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in 2004. For the second-straight year, he led the competition with most poles (nine) along with winning two more events. Team Penske also fielded cars for Newman in the XFINITY Series where he won six of the nine races he entered.
The next two seasons saw Newman rocket to the top spot in qualifying seven times to finish out those years in 18th and 13th in the championship standings.
Newman launched his seventh Cup Series season in grand style by winning the sport’s most prestigious event, the 50th running of the Daytona 500.
Newman joined Stewart-Haas Racing in 2009 and added two more pole awards to his record book and earned a second berth in NASCAR’s Chase for the Championship; where he finished ninth in the final standings. Then the 2010 season produced a November win at Phoenix International Raceway.
The following year, Newman made his fourth appearance in The Chase and finished 10th. His 16th-career win followed in 2012 at Martinsville Speedway in April as he closed out the season 14th in points
In 2013, another crown jewel was added to the driver’s win column. Newman started from the pole and kissed the famed bricks after winning the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His winning form qualified him for The Chase and two days later, RCR announced Newman as the driver of the No. 31 Caterpillar/Quicken Loans/WIX Filters Chevrolet SS beginning in 2014.
Newman proved to be more than just a plug-and-play driver in his first season with RCR and engineered the new 16-driver Chase Grid format for the championship to the team’s advantage. In 36 races together, Newman and Lambert teamed up to produce an impressive five top-five and 16 top-10 finishes with the team’s final 10 Chase races resulting in six of those top 10s and three of the top fives. Newman and team also made it to the Championship 4 Round at Homestead-Miami Speedway where the first eligible driver in the round of four to cross the finish line won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. In the closing laps of the race, the RCR driver went door-to-door for the race win and the championship title en route to a second-place finish in the event and the championship point standings.