Once the NASCAR Cup Series season is rolling again, Ryan Newman will be on the track. Two days after stating he has recovered from injuries sustained in his frightening Daytona 500 wreck, NASCAR officials have medically cleared him for his return to action. He has also been granted a waiver that will allow him to compete for the 2020 championship if he qualifies.
Prior to Sunday’s eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race, Newman announced he is fully healthy after suffering head injuries on the final lap of the Daytona 500 that hospitalised him for a few days. NASCAR issued a statement later in the day stating they “share Ryan’s enthusiasm in his return to the track,” but also clarified he was not yet medically cleared to race again. Ross Chastain had filled in for Newman in the #6 Roush Fenway Racing car for the last three races.
On Monday, RFR confirmed he is good to go.
“Ryan Newman has been medically cleared to resume all racing activities and will pilot the No. 6 Ford once NASCAR returns to action,” read a team statement.
The playoff waiver will allow Newman to vie for the championship if he qualifies for the playoffs. Under the current rules, drivers must be within the top thirty in points to be eligible, while a win while staying in that range will guarantee them a spot in the postseason. Similar waivers have been given over the years for drivers who suffered injuries or were too young to run certain races. Perhaps the most notable example of an injury waiver at the Cup level is Kyle Busch, who sat out most of early 2015 with a broken leg before going on to win the title.
After finishing ninth in the Daytona 500, Newman is currently twenty-ninth in points even despite missing three races.
“We’re thrilled to announce that @NASCAR has granted @RyanJNewman a playoff waiver and he will be eligible to run for the Championship,” RFR president Steve Newmark tweeted on Tuesday. “The entire @roushfenway team is ready for the task ahead . . . .”
Newman is not the only driver to receive a waiver. Matt Kenseth—coincidentally a former Roush driver who drove the #6 prior to Newman’s arrival—was also granted one a day after joining Chip Ganassi Racing‘s #42 for the rest of the 2020 season; while not for injury or age reasons, the circumstances surrounding the #42 after Kyle Larson‘s suspension and firing were viewed as extenuating enough for NASCAR to provide the waiver.
“NASCAR has approved the Playoff waiver requests from Roush Fenway Racing for Ryan Newman and from Chip Ganassi Racing for Matt Kenseth,” the sanctioning body said.
According to Adam Stern of the Sports Business Journal, Newman conducted a private test at Darlington Raceway in March prior to the season being halted by COVID-19. The track is also potentially playing host to the season restart on 17 May, though the date has not been definitively confirmed by NASCAR. Teams have recently begun going back to work after a new state order by North Carolina governor Roy Cooper declared NASCAR as an essential business.