Public Enemy: Anger For Ryan Newman Running Whelen Modified Tour Events Irrational

Ryan Newman (Photo: NASCAR)

Ryan Newman (Photo: NASCAR)

LOUDON, N.H. – Look around all realms of social media Friday afternoon following the inaugural NASCAR Modified Tour Whelen All-Star Shootout and the most common theme was venomous anger.

One would think most anger would have been directed at NASCAR for their decision to shorten the event by three laps.

Not so though.

The bulk of irritation being expressed involved race winner Ryan Newman and the fact that the sanctioning body allowed the Sprint Cup Series regular to participate in the special exhibition event, despite the fact that Newman fit the criteria for inclusion into the event as a former series winner.

The angry sentiment concerning Newman’s participation with the Whelen Modified Tour is the same opinion that has seemingly poured from fans over the last two years each time Newman has participated in Whelen Modified Tour events.

The basic theme of most arguments made – whether thought out or crassly expressed – is that NASCAR should not allow Newman to race with the series.

The question is, why? What is bad about Newman participating? What is bad about anybody participating if they want to participate?

When Newman made his first Whelen Modified Tour start in 2008 his arrival was widely celebrated by most fans. He was welcomed with open arms. Fans were proud to say that a Sprint Cup star was taking the time to participate with the series they love.

Then Newman started winning and things changed. And yes, Newman’s disqualification from a victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2011 swayed the opinions of many to negative, but he was hardly the first driver in series history to get disqualified from an event for cheating.

Gary Putnam and Kevin “Bono” Manion, the principles involved with the team Newman has run with since 2008, are Northeast natives and former Modified crew members who are still interested in participating and supporting the series. Yes, they’ve climbed the ladder to become crew members in the top echelon of NASCAR, but they’re Modified guys at heart.

Are they good at what they do? Sure they are. And isn’t having the best competition you can possibly have participating the goal? Are they dancing on the line of the rulebook? Probably. And so is every other top-level team participating with the series today. That’s part of racing anywhere. They got caught cheating and were penalized. NASCAR isn’t letting them getting away with anything.

Fans saying Newman shouldn’t be allowed to participate because he’s talented enough to compete regularly in NASCAR’s most premier division are actually insulting the regular drivers of the Modified Tour. It’s basically saying, ‘Our drivers aren’t as good so we don’t want him here.’ Reality is, there’s no truth involved in that at all.

Is Newman talented? Sure he is. He didn’t reach the levels he has in racing because he’s not. But the fact is, most Whelen Modified Tour drivers will say they want the chance to compete against him. They want the chance to test their mettle against a driver considered one of the best in the world.

NASCAR’s history was built on stars barnstorming events. Before the Sprint Cup Series became the behemoth of American motorsports that it has grown into, the stars of the division showing up to participate in grassroots short track events or with regional divisions was a regular – and celebrated – occurrence.

The fact is, like it or not, Newman moves the needle for the Whelen Modified Tour when he shows up to race. He brings attention from media and fans that the series wouldn’t get if he wasn’t there.

Attention brings opportunity, and that stands for all involved in the series. It’s a lot easier for a Whelen Modified Tour team to sell potential sponsors on getting involved if those potential sponsors have seen the series getting media attention. And Newman’s participation brings that.

And for a division desperate to help keep new supporters coming and new fans discovering, attention of any sort is a must.

After Friday’s race Newman was asked why he likes to compete with the division.

“They’re pretty close to the ultimate racecar to me,” Newman said. “Low [center of gravity], a lot of tire, a lot of horsepower. Just a lot of fun to drive. … The racing you see [on the Whelen Modified Tour], it’s awesome.”

NASCAR couldn’t pay enough for that sort of media pitch for the Whelen Modified Tour.

Newman isn’t killing the Modified Tour and he isn’t “stealing” from the division. Anybody can come along tomorrow with the right equipment and talent and start winning the same money that’s being won by longtime series regulars. Whether that new face is a well-known Sprint Cup star or someone nobody has ever heard of shouldn’t matter.

The Whelen Modified Tour isn’t a division that’s exactly turning teams away weekly. They need participants, they need positive attention. The fact that people like Newman, Manion and Putnam want to participate with the series and pump up the series to anybody that will listen should be all that matters.

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  1. Matt DiMaio says

    I don’t have an issue with him running the regular tour events at all but the special event was an opportunity for some of the regulars on tour to put a few extra bucks in their pockets in a short 40 lap sprint. While he qualified by virtue of a past winner, the race should have been for drivers who compete on a regular basis say for instance that anyone in the race should have also competed in 75% of starts to be eligible. In the regular event, I think it’s great to have some cup drivers want to race and if I were a driver, I would love to compete against them.

  2. I think some people may feel that he has an advantage with Deep Pockets Engineering due to his Sprint Cup ties. Grass roots fans might be uncomfortable with a Team with that background taking the winners purse. Notice I said “some” and “might”.. just an observation.

  3. Disagree! At a local track, a SK driver cant compete in SK Lights. SK is premier division, and they cant go backwards, or to a lower division. I understand that its good to test your skills vs Cup driver, but its not fair for the people that are in it on a regular schedule for some hot shoe to come and clean up. The Tour is very costly to run, and these guys are there to win their own purse, not a guy that has the best of the best and participates on only the actual tracks he makes his own bread and butter. I know there are plenty of teams on the Tour that do have the best equipment as well, but he shouldnt be in there. I am not trying to disrespect Ryan, Kevin, or Gary at all. Im just saying to play in your own sand box.

  4. I like having him race with the tour. He races clean, brings exposure to the series and in general, is fun to watch.

  5. seekonk fan says

    This was an all star race, Ryan Newman is one of the best mod drivers period! This exposure will only help this series, it will make the other teams step up their game. If this division is going to survive it will need more drivers like Newman instead of the 5-8 back of the pack cars who get lapped 10 times a race and just get in the way. The mod series needs Ryan Newman a lot more than he needs them!

  6. Steve i agree the tour is a in bad shape only 30 cars at nhms it was much better in its begining than now much high car numbers. as long as any other driver wants to race let them as long as it does NOT take a spot away from a reg. div. driver. Ryan is a hard driver just like all the others if you want to beat the best than step up to the plate put your big boy pants on and have at it. good luck all…….

  7. Ron Conley says

    I think its great that Newman or others want to come race with the mods. Totally agree its a good thing, raising the profile of the series. But…..what would people think if, say, some road course ace from SCCA ran a cup race as a one race deal at the glen, and somehow pulled off the upset and won. Sure, under the rules, he would be eligible for the Sprint Cup all star race. But does that really constitute an “all star”? All Star to me means the best of the best of the series, week in and week out, those who put their heart and soul into that series regularly. Not someone who dabbles and plays once or twice a year. Should he or anyone else be able to race in the series, ABSOLUTELY, but reserve the all star race for those who support and sustain the series by showing up week in and week out.

  8. James LaMacchia says

    This is funny, just enjoy the fact that this guy is one of the best drivers in the world and even though this is somewhat of a negative piece, it is still bringing publicity.

  9. I was at New Hamperisher for both race weekends in 2010. When you watch a WMT race they all stick in a pack. Like a Daytona race. But then you would see Newman take off and he would be half a lap ahead of the pack. If you were at the track or watching the races on TV. It was the same for Bristol that year. It was clear as day he was cheating. And when he raced the first WMT race at NH for the first time in 2011. He got caught. Right fully so. I would not have a problem with Newmen. If it was not for him cheating. He HAD to KNOW. Something was up and wrong. Are any of you really going to tell me he did not scratch the top of his head and say. “Huh, I’m a half a lap ahead of 2nd. That’s seems fine to me.”

    Another thing is that he says he loves the WMT. Then why not race at any other track then NH and Bristol? There has been times in the years that he could have raced at another track. This year he could have raced at Stafford June 6th. Sprint was at Pocono that week. July 19th He can race at Monadnock since Sprint has no race that weekend. August 8th he can race at Stafford. Since sprint races at Watkins Glen, NY.

    Do you get that I’m saying? If he loves this tour so much then prove to us die hard fans that he can race with the best at our home turf. Not at the most highest speed highest paid events.

    Until he starts racing at Stafford or tracks like that. He has no respect from me.

    But he is also taping into the hate that fans are starting to get annoyed of. He is no better then Kyle Bush or Brad “Cry baby” Kesawookie or Kevin Harvick. Who race in Nationwide and Trucks and squash the hope and dreams of young and up coming drivers who don’t make millions a year for driving the best stuff in the sport.

    I don’t even bother watching a Nationwide race. Or a truck race anymore if they have more then two sprint cup drivers. this year 5 out of 9 Truck races was won by Bush. 10 out of 16 races in Nationwide has been won by a Sprint cup driver. Last year for Nationwide 27 of the 33 races were won by a Sprint cup driver. Austin Dillon won the championship with out winning a race.

    This rant is going off track. So I’ll try to keep it short now. Newman needs to try and get our respect back. It wont be easy. It’s going to be hard. There are steps he can do. But I still don’t think it will work. For me I think he needs to just step away from any other tour but the Sprint cup for one year. And not worry about getting fired from his main ride.

    That’s my 2 cents. Thanks for reading. If you stuck around. So now. Bring the hate trolls.

  10. This is one of those rare occasions when I agree with Shawn.

    However, I do have one bone to pick. The constant editing of quotes in your articles is getting really annoying. I thought one of the first rules of writing was “know your audience”. Are most of the readers here 12 year olds who have never been to a race? Seriously, who reading this blog wouldn’t know that when someone is standing in New England and says “the tour” that he’s referring to the WMT? I’d much prefer to know what the driver actually said, without all the damn brackets. Except of course if you have to edit out some profanity. That’s understandable.

  11. “All Star to me means the best of the best of the series, week in and week out, those who put their heart and soul into that series regularly.”

    I don’t mean to pick on any drivers at all here, but can you honestly look through the rest of the roster for the All-Star race and say that everyone else besides Newman is the “best of the best” in NASCAR modified racing?

  12. They. Should be glad

  13. Good article Shawn. As a life long modified fan I have no problem with Ryan Newman being in the field. The argument of taking money away from a regular tour team is BS.
    Just showing up to this event took money away from regular tour teams. What did winning pay $4500. What does the motor cost to run NHIS $50,000.
    They could of all saved money and run Seekonk in a couple of weeks for $ 10,000 and a lot less motor. But that wont happen. Nascar sucks get over it.

  14. Newman is a class act, glad he had a good run. I don’t care who is in the cars as long as There are teams fielding cars and I can still enjoy modified racing I’m good with it.

  15. Better go back and re- read entry form it clearly states previous tour champions winners from this season with the remainder of the field being filled by the top 20 in points from both the north and south tours . While the only problem I have with Newman is by those written rules he should have not been allowed to race in that allstar race!!!!

  16. Shawn can you tell me if and when the NH race will be on tv? Thank you

  17. Jayne,

    Below is from NASCAR’s official release announcing details of the event. By these eligibility requirements, Ryan Newman most definitely fit the criteria for inclusion in the event.

    The eligibility requirements for the Whelen All-Star Shootout have also been established
    • Current and past champions of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour are eligible for one of the 20 starting positions until all are filled.
    • The 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour Sunoco Rookies of the Year are allotted starting positions.
    • Any remaining positions will be filled by drivers with the most race wins in NASCAR’s modified tours from the start of the 2005 seasons through the race entry deadline of June 20, 2014.
    • Tiebreakers and additional eligibility requirements, if necessary, are outlined in the event’s Official Entry Blank.

  18. Jim,

    Sunoco 100 Broadcast Details: Friday, July 18, 12 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1

  19. darealgoodfella says

    I think the real issue could be championship points. Ringers like Newman shouldn’t be awarded championship points, he clearly isn’t running for the championship. Like Sprint drivers in the Nationwide series, or drivers have to select the series they collect points. It would be great if the ringers could get their sponsors involved in the Modified races. Ringers running in the Modified events can place to get the cash, but points are awarded as if the ringers weren’t there. Let’s say the best placing ringer finished 3rd, and the 4th place car was a Tour regular would get 3rd place points. Points are really being stolen from the regulars. The top teams are the top because they are well funded. The Modified purses are ridiculously and embarrassingly small. First place barely covers the cost run the event, second place on lose money. If Newman didn’t win, one of the top well funded teams would, no big deal there. These teams come out of the wood work to run Loudon because it is awesome, not because it is their last chance and if they don’t win Loudon they have to sell the operation.

    As far as the Nationwide series being overrun with Sprint drivers, be thankful that there is that much sponsorship $$$$ to go around. The Nationwide series is not chock full of talent that is just busting out waiting for a ride to open up in the Sprint series. If that were the case, there would be many more cars attempting to qualify for the Sprint Cup races, and no start-and-park problem. Be glad and thankful for the ringers in the Nationwide series.

    Look, it was pretty exciting and flattering that guys like Stewart, Edwards, Kahne, Newman and maybe a couple others that I can’t remember ran Loudon a few years ago. And if you remember, most of those guys didn’t do very well. Newman is the only one that has had success. I think most of those other guys wrecked out and rarely finished. Then the 7NY car gets caught with very elaborate means to make more power, and everybody hates on him. This weekend, the 7NY looked every bit as good as the 13, 44, 2 and other top cars today, and he ran very smart. The cars that are running very well this year are doing so by being very smart and strategic.

  20. Leecrab2 says

    can you clarify his previous disqualification? In your article, you simply state “cheating”…but was it truly intentional cheating such as running a fuel additive, tire softener, or obviously illegal carburetor? Or was it something more in a gray area like a tread-width or ride height issue? I can’t imagine these guys just went into a lower series and deliberately cheated.

  21. I think it is great that Ryan Newman chooses to run in NWMT events at New Hampshire and Bristol, TN. It helps showcase the series, and it allows race fans across the country the chance to see the modifiers and the drivers. I would love to see more Sprint Cup drivers race at these events.

  22. thanks

  23. darealgoodfella says

    Leecrab2, it was very elaborate and must have taken plenty of effort and dyno time to develop. The intake was pressure tested in post race inspection and wouldn’t hold pressure… very bad. Must have been terrifying when they were told to pull all the push rods. Jeepers, all those air leaks between the intake manifold and heads. 8-o This was way beyond fuel additive, tire softener, or carb mods. And it wasn’t gray at all. It was pretty clear from the stethoscope and pressure gauge. To get a motor to run right with leaks like that takes a ton of work. Carb must be enriched to take advantage of the extra air. Very complicated. Hmmm, how do you jet the carb for the adjusted altitude, humidity, huge intake air leaks?

  24. Despite the social media rants, it sounds like most readers of racedayct are in favor of Newman running the tour.

  25. Any person who wants to race should be able to race. That is the beauty of the modified series, your average Joe can build a car in his garage and race.These guys love racing(Gary Putnam, Bono, Newman,) Although it costs a lot of money its not like Indy, Cup or Formula One where only the ULTRA rich can buy there way in.
    Modifieds showcase the best in racing action, the cars can actually pass each other and not line up in a parade or train where the series has to make gas tanks smaller, tires wear out faster, mystery cautions, all in effort to make the race more interesting.
    Lets promote the BEST in racing, Modifieds are the American Dream.
    Focus should be on raising purses, TV coverage, series sponsors, all to keep the best racing in the world Alive.
    Nascar cuts laps, starts races in the rain(Bristol) pays little money, treats modifieds as second class.

  26. Frank Franklin says

    Where can one find these so called ‘social media rants’? I’d like to read them for entertainment purposes. Thanks!

  27. Frank Franklin,

    Just a couple examples of the many discussions that were all over Facebook after Friday’s event.

  28. Carl: I feel Newman should not be in the race he is not in every race he takes away from the hard working drivers of this tour who earned the right to be there. If you read the requirements for the allstar race he did not fit it he is a RINGER. It says nothing about winning a past race you had be a champion or rookie.

  29. Ryan Newman has earned the “right” to race anywhere he pleases. He is an awesome driver and if the others know he will be there (as they do) then ready yourselves and your teams for the challenge. Accept the challenge don’t whine about it. If people stop worrying about everyone else and focus on themselves there just may be some surprises in store. Whining is just giving up, conceding, quitting. All of which do not belong in racing so if you part take in that then maybe you shouldn’t be in racing either. Congratulations Ryan Newman!!!

  30. I respect Ryan for wanting to run with the best series in NASCAR.did anyone stay for that disgusting ,boring stupid nationwide race.I am calling Ryan, bono, and Putnam out.bring yourselves to Maddog and u will gain the respect of every team and fan on the tour.come and race for the crap purse and see what its about.all these mod tour teams race for the love of it.not for the paycheck like that crap sprint cup and nationwide follow the leader ruined those series.

  31. Imagine if a bunch of Sprint drivers decided to run on the Tour. Maybe 3 or 4 events. Jeff Gordon, Dale Jr, perhaps. This might attract more viewers, which draws potential for sponsors to perhaps live coverage. So having a Sprint driver is good for the series.

  32. darealgoodfella says

    Kyle Busch called Ryan Newman an ogre. Newman does not attract that much attention. It would be awesome if the media darlings of NASCAR would run Tour races. Imagine if Jr., Jimmy Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Kahne, Danica, and Hamlin ran the Tour at Loudon.

  33. Sharpie Fan says

    I know I’m a little late to the party, having finally caught up with things after vacation at Loudon…

    1. Ryan Newman’s car seemed comparable to the other tour cars. He did not run away from the field or appear to have an unfair advantage as has happened in past races.

    2. Part of this rant should actually be directed at Nascar officials for giving the appearances of “fixing” the race by suddenly switching to “One Chance at a GWC” and not even bothering to inform the announcer who was saying that the race was going the advertised distance.

    3. Is it possible that Nascar created this “Showdown” just to increase car count for Saturday since those “southern” cars then also ran the Saturday race?

    4. If ” Jr., Jimmy Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Kahne, Danica, and Hamlin ran the Tour at Loudon” then it would be just like the Nationwide race.

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