Jane Miller: New pairing should be dynamic duo

Jane Miller

Sometimes, in the midst of a news conference, a driver will mention something that doesn't seem all that significant in the big picture, but still sticks out as an important point.

Ryan Newman's announcement on Friday that he'll be driving for Stewart-Haas Racing next season was no surprise - people had figured that out weeks ago - and perhaps the thing that most people keyed on was that Newman was looking forward to having fun again.

That was a major point, and well taken, but Newman touched ever so briefly on another word, and that was teammate.

“I think (it) is extremely important to me to have somebody that understands the driving part of it, the ownership part of it, the teammate part of it ... That meant a lot,” he said of making his decision to go to Stewart-Haas.

Newman has suffered somewhat in the teammate area during his Cup career. His first teammate was Rusty Wallace, and we all know how that turned out. Now he has Kurt Busch, who I venture to say is not the type of guy to go fishing with Newman, and rookie Sam Hornish Jr.

Sam is a pleasant fellow, but neither he nor Newman is particularly gregarious, so I don't imagine the two of them have formed a tight bond.

But in Tony Stewart, Newman has found a racing kindred spirit. Indiana natives, former USAC Sprint and Midget standouts, outdoors aficionados, both also possess a wicked, dry wit and have been known to pull a practical joke or two.

Both also are tough competitors who know what they like in a race car and will work diligently until they get it.

Stewart has already said he is going to be extremely picky about the people who will be working for his team. Newman certainly was at the top of his wish list for his teammate, and they should be a dynamic duo.


Three weeks ago, after winning at Indianapolis, Jimmie Johnson also touched on a subject that is going to become more obvious as the next few races unfold.

Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus both noted that they had either abandoned plans for their week off before Indianapolis or altered or shortened vacation trips in order to test, and how hard they were working to put their team right.

The immediate result was the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard win, but the races since then also have shown the effects - a third-place finish at Pocono and a rally from a cut tire at Watkins Glen to finish seventh.

Knaus is one of the wiliest crew chiefs in racing, and when he said he's been working extra hard, the rest of the field has been put on notice.

Another Burton

Many fans of the Caterpillar race team got to see Jeb Burton, Ward's son, a few years ago when the family visited Peoria.

That polite little boy is now 16 and was scheduled to make his racing debut in the Limited Sportsman Division at South Boston (Va.) Speedway on Saturday night.

The Charlotte Observer reports that Jeb plans to finish out the schedule this year, then run for the championship in the division next season.

Generous donation

Fans and drivers at the Peoria Speedway again have made a large donation to a family in need.

A check for $1,515, which included a $350 donation from the Circle of Hope, was presented to the family of Ethan Smith of Chenoa earlier this week. Donations were collected at the Aug. 9 race.

Eight-year-old Ethan was killed in a go-kart accident at his home July 31. He was the great-nephew of Speedway scorer Cyndi Shannon.


If you're more into auto racing than motorcycles and aren't planning to attend the Peoria TT, the Allen Crowe 100 ARCA Re/MAX race at Springfield is this afternoon.

Among the entrants are hometown racer Justin Allgaier, Galesburg's A.J. Fike and points leader Scott Speed.

Practice begins at 9 a.m., qualifying at 11 and racing at 1 p.m.

Jane Miller is the Journal Star motorsports columnist. She can be reached at jmiller@pjstar.com or 686-3207.