NASCAR & Auto Racing

Ryan Newman hopes to play Chase spoiler in Sunday’s NASCAR race at Kansas Speedway

Ryan Newman’s contract with Richard Childress Racing is set to expire after the 2016 season, his third year with the team.
Ryan Newman’s contract with Richard Childress Racing is set to expire after the 2016 season, his third year with the team. AP

On a weekday evening in September, NASCAR driver Ryan Newman buttoned a blue Royals jersey across his chest. On the Kauffman Stadium infield, he stepped into the batting cage and took a few hacks.

In the moments afterward, he admitted baseball was not his forte, but the object wasn’t really to impress anyone. Newman was in Kansas City to promote the Hollywood Casino 400 — which takes place at 1:15 p.m. Sunday at Kansas Speedway — and to connect with a friend, Royals manager Ned Yost.

On this particular day, the two had much in common. The Royals had been all but eliminated from postseason contention, looking ahead to an offseason that could take them in a variety of directions. Likewise, earlier in the month, Newman had been eliminated from the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

His offseason? To be determined.

Newman’s contract with Richard Childress Racing is set to expire after the 2016 season, his third year with the team. But after his batting practice session with the Royals last month, Newman spoke with at least a degree of optimism about reaching a resolution.

“We’re working some things out,” Newman said. “We’ll see how all that stuff goes. I feel like we’re in a good spot with it and can focus on the rest of this year and next year.”

The remainder of this season became a bit less appealing after he failed to qualify for the Chase — though that wasn’t without controversy. At Richmond International Raceway in September, driver Tony Stewart wrecked Newman after he said Newman ran into him three times earlier in the race. After the finish, while speaking to reporters, Newman referred to Stewart as “bipolar” with “anger issues.”

NASCAR driver Ryan Newman takes Royals batting practice

“It’s rough not being in (the Chase) with the way we got knocked out of it,” Newman told reporters during his Kauffman Stadium appearance. “It is what it is. You just have to go on. Just because you got a hole in your ship doesn’t mean it won’t still float. You have to stay the course.”

The only path left for Newman is to play the spoiler role. He took fourth at the Bank of America 500 over the weekend at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.

But he’s searching for an elusive victory. While Newman was the Cup Series runner-up in 2014, he hasn’t won a Cup Series race since 2013.

“It’s all about winning races — having fun and building on what we can,” Newman said. “Trying to get those victories and be the Chase spoiler — be the guy that everybody’s talking about could’ve, would’ve, should’ve been in the race.”

KANSAS SPEEDWAY SCHEDULE

Here’s the schedule of events at Kansas Speedway leading up to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Hollywood Casino 400 on Sunday, Oct. 16.

Times and events are subject to change. All times Central.

Friday, Oct. 14

8 a.m.: Parking lots open

9 a.m.: Grandstand gates open

9:30 a.m. and 10:35 a.m.: ARCA practice

Noon: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice

1:30 p.m.: NASCAR Xfinity Series practice

2:30 p.m.: ARCA qualifying

3:35 p.m.: NASCAR Xfinity Series practice

5:15 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying

7 p.m.: ARCA driver introductions

7:30 p.m.: ARCA race

Saturday, Oct. 15

6 a.m.: Parking lots open

8 a.m.: Grandstand gates open

10 a.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice

11 a.m.: NASCAR Xfinity Series qualifying

12:30 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice

1:20 p.m.: NASCAR Xfinity Series driver introductions

2 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series Kansas Lottery 300

Sunday, Oct. 16

6 a.m.: Parking lots open

8 a.m.: Grandstand gates open

About 9:30 a.m.: Pre-race gates open for access to infield

About 11:30 a.m.: Blackberry Smoke concert

12:45 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver introductions

1:15 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400

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