|Ryan Newman has three wins at New Hampshire, the last in 2011|
Newman is scheduled to run the Modified race Saturday before returning to his regular driving duties Sunday behind the wheel of Stewart-Haas Racing’s (SHR) No. 39 Chevrolet SS.
For Newman, running the Modified race offers him a chance to have a little fun and a release from the stress of his day job, where he is currently fighting to race his way into position to claim a coveted spot in the 12-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.
This weekend’s race couldn’t come at a better time for Newman. Given his track record at the “The Magic Mile,” he and his No. 39 team expect to score a strong finish, if not contend for the win, in Sunday’s 301-miler.
Three of Newman’s 16 career Sprint Cup Series wins – September 2002 and 2005 and July 2011 – and six of the 35-year-old driver’s 49 career poles have come at the 1.058-mile oval.
In fact, his 2002 win during his rookie season was Newman’s first points-paying Sprint Cup victory. On that September afternoon, the South Bend, Ind., native started from the pole and dominated the rain-shortened race, leading 143 of 207 laps.
His second victory three years later in September 2005 came after Newman narrowly squeaked into the inaugural Chase for the Championship. He used pit strategy to gain the lead late in the race after starting 13th and, in the closing laps, he dueled with now-team owner and teammate Tony Stewart for the lead. Newman passed Stewart with two laps remaining and held on to take the win, renewing Newman’s hopes for a run at the championship.
The July 2011 win was a wire-to-wire effort as Newman drove from his No. 1 starting spot to victory lane. Newman led six times for 119 laps in winning from the pole position for just the fourth time in his career.
And that win was all part of a banner weekend for SHR. Newman and Stewart, now his teammate and team owner, started 1-2 and finished 1-2. The last time a team started 1-2 and finished 1-2 was Hendrick Motorsports in the 1989 Daytona 500. However, the last time a team started 1-2 and finished 1-2 with the same drivers in the same order was back on April 7, 1957, at North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway, where DePaolo Engineering’s Fireball Roberts won from the pole while teammate Paul Goldsmith started and finished second.
After a 10th-place finish at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway last weekend, Newman and his Matt Borland-led team have shaved their deficit to 10th place in the Sprint Cup Series point standings to just 17 markers. Knowing they are headed to one of their best tracks, the No. 39 team is eager to continue closing in on securing a Chase berth.
For Newman, coming “home” to New Hampshire always brings back great memories thanks to his previous successes at the track. This weekend, a trip to victory lane in the No. 39 WIX Filters Chevrolet SS could provide him with the ticket he needs to reserve his spot in the 2013 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
RYAN NEWMAN QUOTES:
Talk about racing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
“New Hampshire Motor Speedway is a fun racetrack. It has long straightaways and hairpin corners. You really have to drive it into the corner and focus on rolling through the center. It’s one of the most symmetrical tracks we go to in that turns one and two are very similar to turns three and four. It’s really important to focus on the exit of the corners. The toughest part is track position – if you get behind, it is hard to make it up. Because track position is so important, hopefully we’ll be able to continue our record of solid qualifying efforts at New Hampshire this weekend. I got my first Sprint Cup win at New Hampshire, so it has always been a special track for me.”
Talk about running not only the Sprint Cup Series race this weekend but the Modified race, as well.
“It’s a big weekend not only for me but for WIX Filters, as well, as they will be on both the Modified and my No. 39 Sprint Cup Chevrolet SS. The Modified race is a little bit of an extracurricular activity for the weekend. I’ll get to go have a little bit of fun with Kevin ‘Bono’ Manion and his guys. I always look forward to racing the Modified. It’s a lot of fun to drive that racecar, especially at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. While that’ll be fun, it’s extremely important for us to have a strong run in the Cup car from a points perspective. We need to do all we can to try and win that race to keep us alive in the wild-card standings toward making the Chase. New Hampshire is sort of a “home” track for me because of the number of victories and poles I’ve had there. So, I’m looking forward to the weekend. It couldn’t come at a better time, nor in a better place.”
You have six poles and three wins at New Hampshire. What makes you so good at New Hampshire?
“That’s actually kind of funny because I used to say New Hampshire was my least favorite racetrack. But it’s far from that, now. It’s still not my favorite racetrack, but I really look forward to going back there each year. New Hampshire has always been a good place for me. I’m not 100 percent sure why. It’s the place I got my first win and, when I hadn’t won in a long while, 70-some races, I won again there. For whatever reason, and I still don’t know the answer as to why I enjoy Loudon. I like the track because I think you have to feel the tires and be on the edge. New Hampshire kind of drives like that kind of track where your car is on top of the racetrack and you get everything you can. There is nothing to really make it go any faster. It’s not like you are pushing the car on the banking to make it grip better. There’s none of that really to speak of there, I think, other than just a little bit of our past, a little bit of our time, and a little bit of us as far as the way we drive racecars.”
That’s odd to hear someone who has done so well at a track say it was his least favorite. What do you mean?
“Loudon has just always been a difficult track to pass on. And, from a racecar driver’s standpoint, you want to go out there and say that, if I have a good car, I can go out there and start last and win this race. And you can’t always do that there. That’s just a rule of thumb and generic explanation for why it’s not perfect. Other than that, it’s short-track racing. It’s fun but it’s really difficult to pass there, at times. It all depends on the tire they bring and how good your car is. To me, personally, I feel like I’m competitive as a driver at all the tracks but, obviously, it takes a good crew that understands the car and the track and strategy and everything else. We’ve just done well there. It’s clicked.”
- True Speed Communication for Stewart-Haas Racing