Tony Stewart revealed on Friday that Ryan Newman will not return to Stewart-Haas Racing for the 2014 Sprint Cup Series season.
Stewart, who is co-owner of SHR, said the team will not expand to a four-car operation next season. Earlier this year, Kevin Harvick confirmed that he is leaving Richard Childress Racing at the end of this season and joining SHR next year. Harvick will be teammates with Stewart and Danica Patrick.
Earlier in the day, officials from Anheuser-Busch and SHR announced that Harvick will drive the No. 4 Chevrolet, with Budweiser serving as primary sponsor for the team for 20 races as well as the preseason event at Daytona International Speedway next year. Budweiser also will serve as a major associate sponsor for Harvick in the remaining races on the Sprint Cup schedule.
Newman has driven the No. 39 car for SHR since the start of the 2009 season.
"We are not ready to expand to a fourth team," Stewart said during a press conference at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the site of this weekend's Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races. "Unfortunately, this will be the last year that we have Ryan with us. That's probably what has made this a bittersweet day. I'm bringing in another one of my friends to the organization, but also knowing that, I'm losing a friend at the end of the year to the organization.
"The number one thing when Ryan and I spoke is that our friendship will not change. This was a business decision that was Gene's (team co-owner Gene Haas) as well as mine, and it was a hard decision. There is a personal side, and there is a business side. For Ryan and I, we had to put the personal bit of it aside to work through the business part. I'll do everything I can to help Ryan in any way I can moving forward to try to help him in his effort to find another team next year. I'm behind him 100 percent."
Newman drove for Penske Racing in Cup from 2000-08, winning the Daytona 500 in his final year with Roger Penske's team. Three of Newman's 16 victories in the series came with SHR. He is currently 16th in the point standings and has yet to win a race this season.
"I've had a good run (with Stewart-Haas Racing), and I look forward to finishing out this year," Harvick said. "I look forward to the opportunity of making the Chase (for the Sprint Cup championship) and winning races and putting ourselves to have a chance to win the championship. That's my ultimate goal and always has been.
"I do not know what my future holds. I have no idea right now. And I didn't have any idea at this time last year. So I guess that is something that weighs on my shoulders. I have a little bit of homework to do."
Harvick has driven the No. 29 car for RCR in Cup since replacing Dale Earnhardt after Earnhardt's fatal crash in the 2001 Daytona 500. This is his 13th season with team. There had been a lot of talk about this being a do- nothing year for Harvick, but he has silenced his critics with a win in April at Richmond and then another victory in May at Charlotte. He is presently fourth in points.
"I think for me the Stewart-Haas piece was intriguing just for the fact that you have Tony as a teammate, and he has been a big part of what we did at (Kevin Harvick Inc.) to get it started," Harvick said. "We have a friendship that goes beyond the racetrack."
For more than 30 years, Budweiser has sponsored several drivers in NASCAR's premier series, including Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bill Elliott, Terry Labonte, Geoff Bodine, Ken Schrader, Ricky Craven, Wally Dallenbach, Kasey Kahne and Harvick.
"Over the last three years, Kevin has been an amazing ambassador for Budweiser, both on and off the track," Blaise D'Sylva, vice president of media, sports and entertainment marketing, Anheuser-Busch, said in a statement. "We value that level of commitment, and we're proud to join him at Stewart-Haas Racing next season."
Additional sponsorship for Harvick at SHR next year has yet to be announced.
"It's nice to officially end the speculation about numbers and teams, and as far as the sponsorship, obviously we've had three years with Budweiser and looking forward to moving forward with them as a sponsor."