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Publication: NASCAR News
Penske to part ways with Newman

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          NASCAR NEWS - Thursday, July 17, 2008
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Penske makes decision to part ways with Newman
By David Caraviello, NASCAR.COM 

In the final year of his contract with Penske Racing and 
unhappy with the team's performance, Ryan Newman wanted 
to weigh his options for the 2009 season. On Monday, the 
Penske organization decided to move on without him, and 
announced it was cutting ties with Newman effective at 
the end of the year. 

"There's a point where there's a decision that has to be 
made," Penske president Tim Cindric said. "Our first 
choice was to keep Ryan on board with us, but you can't 
draw it out forever. There's going to be a point where 
we either have to decide whether we're in or we're out, 
and obviously today was the day to part ways." 

Newman is now free to sign with another NASCAR team -- 
including the one now co-owned by friend and fellow driver 
Tony Stewart -- for next season and beyond. Newman had 
repeatedly said that he would consider leaving Penske if 
performance did not improve. His Daytona 500 win is his 
lone race victory since late 2005, and he currently sits 
16th in Sprint Cup points. 

"I appreciate Penske Racing and all they have done for me," 
Newman said in a statement released by the team, "but more 
importantly, I appreciate their friendship and what they 
have done for my career." 

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Newman has 13 wins in 243 starts with 63 top-five finishes 
and 105 top-10s. Since his debut on Nov. 5, 2000, at 
Phoenix he also has 43 poles -- tops on the Sprint Cup 
tour -- despite not running his first full season until 
2002. Penske is the only NASCAR home that Newman has ever 
known. 

"There are quite a few people that have been here since 
Ryan came with the team," Cindric said. "You get that 
connection. It's a personable sport, and that plays a 
part. But it's also a business." 

Now Penske begins the search for a new driver for its 
No. 12 car. "There are a lot of obvious people being 
kicked around out there as far as names, and I'm sure 
we'll end up talking to all of them," Cindric said. "But 
at this point and time, I couldn't tell you who's going 
to drive the 12 car yet." 

Two names immediately come to mind: former Cup driver 
David Stremme, who tests for Penske, and outgoing Hendrick 
Motorsports driver Casey Mears, whose uncle Rick Mears -- 
a four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 -- has long 
been associated with the Penske program. 

"They're certainly both considerations, and ones I'm 
certain we'll discuss with [sponsor] Alltel and our 
other partners involved, and at the end of the day figure 
out whether they're the best candidates or if there's 
somebody else out there who makes sense as well," Cindric 
said. "But they're certainly guys that we'll consider, for 
sure." 

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Stremme, racing short-track cars in Wisconsin, wasn't sure 
if his status as test driver would give him an advantage. 
"There's so much stuff going on right now, it's hard to 
tell what's going to happen," he said. "It's a great 
company. Right now, all I'm doing is testing. Who knows 
what might happen. Right now there are so many things going 
on." 

Newman said Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway that he had 
three options on the table beyond Penske, one of them being 
the newly-formed Stewart-Haas organization. Newman has long 
been viewed as the lead candidate for Stewart's second car, 
but more established teams like Richard Childress Racing 
and Joe Gibbs Racing also currently have openings for next 
year. 

Cindric doesn't believe Newman has decided on a new home. 
"I believe that he's undecided," he said. "I believe that 
he hasn't made a commitment anywhere, to be honest. But 
that's something you'd really have to ask Ryan. Because 
what was important to us was whether or not he was going 
to be here. Beyond hat, I hate to speculate on his 
situation." 

Stewart announced last week he will leave Joe Gibbs Racing 
at the end of 2008 to become driver and part-owner of Haas 
CNC Racing. The name will be changed to Stewart-Haas. 

The two-car team currently fields the Nos. 66 and 70 cars, 
and both cars are outside the top 35 in owners points. 

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END OF NASCAR NEWS 
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