, Fla. (July 30, 2008) – Ryan Newman will try to become only the fourth driver to win back-to-back Daytona 500s in the 51st annual Daytona 500 on Feb. 15.
In mid-July, Newman announced that he will part ways with Penske Racing at season’s end and that he’s currently exploring his options for 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
When Newman returns to DIS next year for the season-opening 51st annual Daytona 500, it will mark the first time since 1981 that the Daytona 500 champion from the previous year will drive with a different team.
In 1980, Buddy Baker won the fastest Daytona 500 in history with owner Harry Ranier and returned the following year to defend his victory with owner Hoss Ellington’s No. 1 Oldsmobile. He finished fourth.
Newman, who has driven for Penske Racing since making his first Sprint Cup Series start back in 2000, wasn’t aware of the distinction.
“I don’t know the stat if it has been,” Newman said. “But that’s just the way my career path is right now. I’ll take that for what it’s worth. Obviously, I’m trying to align myself with a team that I feel will give me a great shot for a championship as well as coming out of the box with a Daytona 500 victory.”
Newman’s new team is just one of many new combinations that race fans will see for the first time in the 51st annual Daytona 500. Tony Stewart, a two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, has already announced that he is leaving Joe Gibbs Racing at season’s end and will be a driver/co-owner with Stewart-Haas Racing.
“We don’t know what team Ryan Newman will be defending his title as Daytona 500 champion with,” Daytona International Speedway President Robin Braig said. “That will be one more breaking story that will add to the excitement of the 51st annual Daytona 500.”
Tickets for the 51st
annual Daytona 500 and other DIRECTV Speedweeks 2009 events are available online at http://www.racetickets.com
or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.