He drives the #12 Alltel, Mobil Oil Dodge Charger for Penske Racing.
By age 4, Newman had moved from the push car in his crib to being pushed off in a Quarter Midget by his father at a little track in New Carlisle, Ind. And from that moment, the only thing at the center of Newman’s world was a race car.
Even though Newman’s parents attempted to introduce him to other athletics, nothing else mattered or held his interest. And Newman’s dedication to the sport began reaping victory laurels for the Indiana native at an early age.In 1993 Newman won the All-American Midget Series championship and rookie honors. Two years later he claimed USAC National Midget Series Rookie of the Year. In 1996, Newman was the top rookie in USAC’s Silver Crown Series and in 1999 he was named Sprint Car Rookie of the Year.
Even though Newman spent the early portion of his racing career in the open-wheel ranks, he always knew his objective was to compete in NASCAR’s premier series. In November 1997, Newman and his family visited Atlanta Motor Speedway, searching for a ride for the Purdue University student. However, it would be another three years before he would get the break he had been seeking. At Daytona during 2000 Speedweeks, Ryan and his father met Roger Penske and Don Miller. They decided to test him and in June of that same year he made his stock car racing debut in an ARCA event at Michigan. By the time 2000 had ended, Newman had won three of the five ARCA races in which he had competed and made his NASCAR debut.
Newman, meanwhile, had moved to North Carolina in pursuit of his dream and Penske officials had announced that in 2001 their young driver would compete in a precedent setting ABC schedule – selected ARCA, Busch and Cup races. He also completed the requirements for his college degree in vehicle structure engineering.In 2001, Newman won the season-opening ARCA race at Daytona, earned his first-ever Cup pole in only his third start on the circuit, and won a Busch Series race at Michigan.It was now time for Newman to move to NASCAR’s Cup Series fulltime.Throughout Newman’s career, the quiet young man had always reaped rookie honors when he first competed in a series fulltime and the pattern remained in 2002. Newman defeated Jimmie Johnson for the Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year title that year, setting a new standard for the circuit’s first-year drivers. He finished sixth in the points; tied Mark Martin for the most top-10 finishes in a season with 22, a rookie record; became just the second rookie to win The Winston all-star race; led the series with six poles, another rookie record that broke the one established by Davey Allison in 1987; posted 14 top-10 finishes, second only to series champion Tony Stewart with 15; and tied Stewart in races led, holding the No. 1 position in 22 events. He also captured his first career victory in a rain-shortened race at New Hampshire in September.
Newman backed up his outstanding rookie performance with the most prolific sophomore season by a Cup driver since Dale Earnhardt won the series championship in 1980. With a second-half surge, Newman and his ALLTEL team were spectacular, leading the series with eight victories, 11 poles and the most miles led with 1,509.13 His series-high 11 poles were the most since 1985 when Bill Elliott also registered 11. Newman also tied Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the most races led during the season at 24, and ended the year with a series-high 17 top-five finishes.After finishing sixth in the point standings for the second straight year, Newman was named SPEED Channel Driver of the Year, the first time a driver had received the award without winning his series championship since Elliott accomplished the feat in 1985. Newman also was named NMPA Richard Petty Driver of the Year, Benny Kahn/Daytona Beach News Journal Driver of the Year, and Sporting News’ Dale Earnhardt Toughest Driver of the Year.
Last year, Newman made NASCAR’s inaugural “Chase for the Championship” and eventually placed seventh in the title run. Overall, he collected two victories and the Bud Pole Award for the third consecutive year with nine No. 1 starting positions. It was the first time any driver had led the series in poles for three consecutive years since Darrell Waltrip accomplished the feat in 1981-83.Racing, however, wasn’t the sole interest in Newman’s life in 2004. On Jan. 3, he and Krissie Boyle, whom he had dated since the fall of 2001, were married. Newman also appeared in the NASCAR IMAX movie, commercials for ALLTEL, Dodge, Mobil 1 and Gillette, and had a book released on his life. He joined Krissie as an advocate for no-kill animal shelters and continued to help her find loving owners for homeless dogs. Together, they enjoyed fishing and tracking down classic cars for a collection that already includes a 1957 Ford Thunderbird, a 1953 Plymouth Cranbrook, and a 1928 Ford Roadster.
Newman, nicknamed “Rain Man” by Penske South co-owner Don Miller because it’s the driver’s favorite movie, also is acquiring race cars that played key roles early in his career and is restoring them.Newman discovered in high school that creating pottery was a way to relax. He even added it to his college curriculum as an elective, because it presented a new challenge. He once made a Dale Earnhardt race car and gave it to his sister, but the majority of his creations have been different-size pots that have gone to various family members.
“Weird stuff, too,” says his mother, Diane.But one could say it’s weird because it’s been created by an extremely simple but complex man.“He has all the facets that most people don’t get to see because he doesn’t let them in the garage,” Miller says. “He is a balls-to-the-wall kind of driver like Cale Yarborough or Junior Johnson, but a thinker like David Pearson. He’s also an educated, resourceful individual on the race track and quiet and educated like Mark Donohue. But he’s not like those guys; he’s like himself.”
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