Ryan Newman, the 2008 Daytona 500 winner, has signed on to drive the Bertrand Motorsports #39 Drinan in Northeastern Midget Association action at Lee USA Speedway, Friday night, Sept. 12.
The popular Newman adds luster to what will be the 900th feature in NEMA’s 57-year history. He’ll be part of a three-car Bertrand effort that also includes current point leader Randy Cabral and 2007 rookie of the year Jeremy Frankoski.
Newman will join a stellar field looking to grab the milestone win. Cabral (5), Greg Stoehr (2), Joey Payne and Jeff Abold all hope to win again. A number of competitors including Frankoski, Mike Keeler and Erica Santos have been very close. Bobby Santos III (3 wins) will not be at Lee, due to a previous commitment to run at O’Reilly Raceway Park, however Lou Cicconi Jr. will pilot the #98 Santos machine.
The No. 39 is of significance to the one-time USAC standout who is presently driving the Sprint Cup Alltel Dodge for Penske Racing. It was the number on his last Midget (also a Drinan) and will be the number of his 2009 Cup ride with Stewart-Hass Racing.
A Purdue University grad, Newman is no stranger to open cockpit racing in general and midgets in particular. Prior to moving to NASCAR, Newman had a successful six-year run with USAC capped off by the Coors Light Silver Bullet national championship in 1999.
USAC’s 1995 Midget Rookie of the Year, he had 13 Midgets win before moving to the stock cars in 2001. He was second in the 1999 Midget standings. The popular Hoosier also has two Silver Crown and two USAC Sprint Car wins.
The Newman-Bertrand arrangement adds to NEMA’s long history that began on Memorial Day, 1953 at Seekonk Speedway.
The NEMA Lites will also be returning to Lee.
Since joining Penske, Newman has 13 Sprint Cup, seven Busch (now Nationwide) and four ARCA wins.
Sources: Pete Zanardi/NEMA PR