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Ryan Newman focuses on playoff spot, not future plans

CONCORD, N.C. — The recent reports that Brad Keselowski will join Roush Fenway Racing as a driver/owner next season, raise questions about the future of Ryan Newman, who is in the final year of his contract with the team.

Newman said Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway that his goal is to continue in the No. 6 car.

“I’ve not been told anything ... and I’m just doing my thing,” said Newman, who is in his 20th full-time Cup season. “My goal is to continue with the 6 car and focus there and try to get our Roush Fenway Ford in victory lane and have a shot and chance to be in the playoffs, and then prove we’re capable of more than people think we are.”

Newman told NBC Sports before the season that he was focused on winning his first Cup title instead of setting an end date to his NASCAR career.

“The reality is any driver that goes out on their own terms has quit, right? That’s the only way it works,” the 43-year-old told NBC Sports. “So I’m not a quitter. I haven’t achieved my goal, so the only way I would go out on somebody else’s terms is if they quit me. That’s not good teamwork. I’ve got to put myself in position with the right people that have a common goal of winning races and eventually winning a championship. I know that I’m at that place.

“That doesn’t mean I’ll stay at that place, but I’m at that place and as long as I’m capable – in other words, able to do the things I need to on and off the racetrack to be successful – then I’ll continue to do so with the hopes of living out my lifelong dream to be a Cup champion.”

Newman reiterated Saturday his desire to continue racing.

“There’s no doubt that I’m very passionate about the sport, the people, the cars in many ways,” he said. “I’ve got more experience and tenure to have, I guess, a more sound opinion about it,” he said. “I like having that, and it’s not because I think people will listen to me just because I think being an engineer and having a background the way I do that it makes sense.”

Newman’s passion carries to safety in the sport. While he’s been vocal about the racing Daytona and Talladega, he raised concerns about last weekend’s race in the rain at Circuit of the Americas.

“I said after the race, to me, it was the dumbest thing I’ve ever done sitting in the cockpit of a car, going as fast as I was without being able to see,” Newman said. “I’ve had cars that are on fire, tires blown, things like that, and felt like I still had some control, but you don’t have control when you lose that sense of vision (because of the water spray from the cars).

“That was my biggest problem with everything that happened. NASCAR was boxed in, no doubt. Started off sequence on rain tires versus slicks. We got to a point where they didn’t know how good we couldn’t see, and I mean that with every word that I said — how good we couldn’t see — and it was dangerous.

“It was dangerous in many ways, and I feel like we got completely lucky, and I’m happy that we got lucky, but we damn sure better make sure we adjust to it and make sure that we don’t put ourselves in that situation again.”

Newman starts 25th in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. He enters the race 21st in the standings. He’s 61 points out of the final playoff spot via points.

“It seems no matter what series or what kind of race car you’re in, the summer stretch is always something that’s talked about, and it’s important here because of the way our season is structured,” Newman said. “It’s a big part of what happens right before the playoffs.”