Ryan Newman was introduced to a lot of new NASCAR fans under unfortunate circumstances at the 2020 Daytona 500. Coming into that year's running of the "Great American Race," Newman had been a NASCAR driver in the sport's highest level for nearly 20 years. Still, he hadn't gotten a top-10 finish in the Cup Series standings since 2014, so it's safe to say that he definitely wasn't at his peak from a recognition standpoint at the start of the decade.
Yet, Newman would be a front-page story for weeks to come following his terrifying final-lap crash at the 2020 Daytona 500. The wreck was so intense that it reminded many fans of Dale Earnhardt's fatal wreck at the 2001 Daytona 500. Fortunately, Newman not only survived the crash, but still races professionally to this day. As you'll later see in a clip below, the wreck would've probably ended most drivers' careers. But, Newman proved his strength as a competitor in the weeks during his recovery and, even at 45 years old, he continues to show just how committed he is to his career as a race car driver.
Ryan Newman's Racing Career Before the 2020 Crash
Born on December 8, 1977 in South Bend, Indiana, Newman began his racing career in 1993, competing in the United Midget Auto Racing Association and the All-American Midget Series. That year, he won both Rookie of the Year honors and the championship. He moved to the United States Auto Club in 1995, and in 1996, he was named Rookie of the Year again in both the Midget Series and the Silver Crown. Three years later, Newman was the first driver to win in all three USAC divisions (Silver Bullet, Sprint, and Midget) while also winning the Silver Bullet Series championship. With 100 feature wins and two titles, Newman is an official member of the Quarter Midget Hall of Fame. In 2001, a year before his first full-time season in the NASCAR Cup Series, Newman graduated from Purdue University with a B.S. in vehicle-structure engineering.
After spending two years competing in the ARCA Series (NASCAR's feeder series) with Penske Racing, Ryan Newman kicked off his Cup Series career in 2002. He won six poles that season, breaking the rookie record set by Davey Allison. With 14 top-five finishes and 22 top-10s, Newman would end up beating out Jimmie Johnson for the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series Rookie of the Year.
In 2003, Newman racked up eight wins and 11 poles. His number of poles that season earned him the nickname "Rocket Man," which was a nod to both his speed and his engineering degree. Newman would go on to see the checkered flag at the 2008 Daytona 500, which also marked the first Daytona 500 win for Penske. From 2009 to 2013, Newman raced the No. 39 Chevy for Stewart-Haas Racing, and, on April 10, 2010, he broke a 78-race winless streak at the Subway Fresh Fit 600 at Phoenix International Raceway. This marked the first win in NASCAR history for a No. 39 car.
From 2014 to 2018, Newman drove the No. 31 Chevy for Richard Childress Racing, and in 2019, he made the move to Roush Fenway Racing, where he drove the No. 6 Ford. It was during his time with RFR that Newman would have to endure the most difficult period of his career.
Disaster Strikes at the 2020 Daytona 500
Ryan Newman's crash at the 2020 Daytona 500 is already regarded as one of the most intense NASCAR crashes in recent memory. And, after you watch the footage of the collision, you'll see why.
On the last lap of the 62nd running of the iconic Daytona Beach, Florida race, Newman's Ford Mustang was sent hard into a wall, after Ryan Blaney's bumper caught the back of Newman's car. His contact with the wall caused him to go airborne, and as he was flipping, his car was hit on the driver's side by Corey LaJoie. Covered in flames, Newman's car eventually skidded across the finish line. Denny Hamlin would go on to win the race.
Newman recovered at Halifax Health Medical Center, the same hospital where Dale Earnhardt was pronounced dead following his last-lap crash at the 2001 Daytona 500. After hours without an update regarding the extent of Newman's injuries, Roush Fenway Racing later released a statement saying that Newman was in serious condition, but had non-life-threatening injuries.
Sadly, during this already turbulent time in his life, Newman would also be dealing with a personal crisis. On February 13, 2020, just four days before his crash at the Daytona 500, Ryan and his wife Krissie Newman, who had been married for 16 years, announced their divorce. In an official statement, Newman said that the separation was amicable, that they remained friends, and that they would be raising their daughters, Ashlyn Olivia and Brooklyn Sage, jointly. On February 19, Newman posted a photo with his daughters on social media from his hospital room, which was an encouraging sign to fans that he was moving along in his recovery process.
Newman's Career After the Wreck
Weeks later after his February 19 health update, Newman revealed that he had sustained a bruised brain in the wreck, and after two more months of recovery time, he made his NASCAR return at the May race at Darlington. He finished out the rest of the season, ultimately placing 25th in the Cup standings.
Newman had a disappointing year with RFR in 2021, finishing a career-worst 28th in the standings. That year would mark his final season in the Cup Series, but he went on to compete in Tony Stewart's Superstar Racing Experience in 2022, finishing second in the standings. In 2023, Newman announced that he would run select events in NASCAR's Whelen Modified Tour for Sadler Stanley Racing alongside teammate Bobby Labonte.
All told, Newman has 18 wins and 268 top-10 finishes in the Cup Series, seven wins and 35 top-10s in the Xfinity Series, and one win and six top-10s in the Camping World Truck Series.
What's Ryan Newman's Net Worth?
Ryan Newman has an estimated net worth of $50 million, and what he chooses to do with his millions is nothing short of admirable. Not only does Newman give back to the military through Hope for the Warriors, but he also helps operate the Ryan Newman Foundation and the Rescue Ranch, which helps with pet adoption and rehabilitation.
Newman is also a vintage car collector and restorer. He owns 14 cars in total, but his favorite is a 1948 Buick Roadmaster convertible. Ryan's rides have even been featured on the History Channel show American Pickers. With retirement likely right around the corner, Newman will have a lot more time to beef up his extensive collection. We wonder what the next addition to the garage will be!
MORE: The Big One at Daytona: 4 of the Most Significant Wrecks at the "World Center of Racing"
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