Ryan Newman won’t say where he will drive in 2014, but he appears to know. who likely will have to dice his way into the Chase for the Sprint Cup Saturday night at Richmond, hopes he can negotiate race traffic as well as the questions he took about his future Thursday.
Here’s a condensed version of some of the questions:

Do you have a signed contract to race in 2014? "I don’t know," Newman said and then laughed.

Have you had to spend time this week working on his future? "I spent some time this week working on next year, which I can’t really talk anything about," he said.

When will you be ready to say what you’re doing in 2014? "Oh, I am ready to say." So you’re not allowed? "It’s not that I’m not allowed, it’s just not the right time," he said.

When will you tell us where you’re racing in 2014? "Shortly," he said.

OK, one last try: When you agreed to your 2014 deal, what brand of wine did you drink to toast the signing (Childress also owns a winery)? "Coke," he said.

So while he didn’t say, it appeared that the only thing on Newman’s mind this weekend at Richmond International Raceway will be the immediate future, not next season.

The 35-year-old Newman, who has 17 career victories, was told in July that he would not be retained at Stewart-Haas Racing. At the time, he was winless and 16th in the standings. Since then, he has three top-fives in seven races, including a win at Indianapolis that has him in contention for a Chase berth.

But also since then, SHR has hired Kurt Busch for a fourth Cup car, something SHR co-owner Tony Stewart said wasn’t possible at the time the decision on Newman was made. Newman said he did not watch Stewart’s news conference Tuesday, the first time Stewart addressed Busch’s hiring, which was done primarily by team co-owner Gene Haas while Stewart was recuperating from a broken leg.

"I don’t think Tony at all lied to me," Newman said. "I don’t think anybody lied to me. I don’t have any of that feeling or emotion and I don’t think any of that matters because the plans that they made are for 2014, and I’m not a part of that and I knew that going in.

"I don’t think there were any hidden agendas on Tony’s behalf."

Newman is 14th in the standings and is right now the first driver outside the Chase for the Sprint Cup looking in, five points behind Martin Truex Jr. for the second wild-card spot. He could get into the Chase with a win, by beating Truex by five spots (give or take two spots depending on how many laps each led), or having Kasey Kahne rally from 10 points outside the top-10 to earn one of the 10 automatic berths.

"I don’t expect anything to be easy," Newman said. "They say the more challenging it is, the more rewarding it is."

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