CONCORD, N.C. – Ryan Newman will return to his dirt-track racing roots for next week’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway, driving the No. 3 Chevrolet Silverado for Jordan Anderson Racing.
The Eldora Dirt Derby on July 18 will mark Newman’s first race at the Tony Stewart-owned half-mile since the event’s inaugural running in 2013, when he finished fourth driving for the late Steve Turner.
While it might seem like a step back to some, Newman said during a break in Tuesday’s ROVAL Test Fest at Charlotte Motor Speedway – where the Off Axis-designed paint scheme was unveiled to the public – that he’s excited for the chance to change things up and help in building Anderson’s grassroots team.
“I’m really looking forward to doing this deal and working with Jordan,” said Newman. “Dirt racing is part of where I came from; it makes up part of my roots. I grew up in the Midwest and have raced at Eldora in the past, both in the Truck Series and in USAC competition, so I know how important the track is and what its history means to auto racing as a whole and I’m looking forward to getting back there.”
For Anderson, Tuesday’s announcement was an opportunity to link up with one of his childhood heroes and put a proven Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series winner behind the wheel of one of his trucks.
“This is cool for me, because I actually met Ryan for the first time at Charlotte back in 2001 … I was running a Bandolero on Coca-Cola 600 Pole Night and he was out here running in the All-Star Race that season,” recalled Anderson. “ Ryan is a guy I’ve always looked up to and tried to emulate my own career after, so it’s neat to see everything come full circle now, years later, and to work with him as a part of this.
“Both of us are grassroots racers; we’re racers at the core. It’s an opportunity for him to go back dirt racing again and it’s an opportunity for me to truly get a feel for where we’re at as a team with someone who’s raced at the Cup Series level behind the wheel and giving us feedback,” Anderson added. “This was a new team six months ago; we literally built it from the ground up and now we have four trucks, so we’re trending in the right direction and this is the next step in our journey.”
VRX Simulators will be the primary sponsor of Newman’s truck for the Eldora event.
Newman is an 18-time Cup Series winner, including victories in the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400, and has made six Truck Series starts over the course of his career. His lone Truck win came during his series debut at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2008.
Anderson recognizes the wealth of experience and knowledge that Newman brings to the table for his team, as well as the potential rewards if Newman should happen to win next Wednesday’s race.
“I was joking with him that there’s no pressure, but that I hope he wins the race and puts us in the owners’ playoffs,” noted Anderson with a grin. “It’s a great opportunity for us. Ryan’s already been helping us out and is working with me to teach me a lot of other things, not just about our equipment for Eldora but for our pavement and intermediate trucks as well.
“This has taken my driver’s hat off and put my owner’s hat on, but there’s more to it than just that. Ryan told me that the only way he would do this deal is if he could come into the shop with us and be hands-on with working on the truck,” Anderson added. “We’re really taking a grassroots approach to this and wanting to show that the average racer can go out and chase their dreams, and I feel like we’re off to a great start in that mission.
“We know there’s going to be a lot of great people in the field at Eldora chasing that golden shovel (the trophy for winning the Dirt Derby) but I think we can be one of those people and I think we have a lot we can show people next week.”