Thursday, September 19, 2013

Solid Richmond run should help Newman do well at flat New Hampshire layout

Ryan Newman immediately after Richmond, when he thought he was out
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (Sept. 18, 2013) – If there truly are races Ryan Newman circles on his calendar at the beginning of each season as races where he and his Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) team should be the class of the field, there’s no doubt one of those is this weekend.

After all, New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon has been the site of three of Newman’s 17 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins – September 2002 and 2005 and July 2010 – and six of the Quicken Loans driver’s 50 career poles.

In fact, New Hampshire was the site of Newman’s first points-paying Sprint Cup victory during his rookie season in 2002. On that September afternoon, the South Bend, Ind., native started from the pole and dominated the rain-shortened race, leading 143 of 207 laps.

The second victory came three years later in September 2005. Newman, who had narrowly squeaked into the inaugural Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, used pit strategy to gain the lead late in the race after starting 13th. In the closing laps, he dueled for the lead with now-team owner and teammate Tony Stewart. 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 started 1-2 and finished 1-2 as teammate and team owner. 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.

So, it makes sense Newman would circle New Hampshire on his calendar each year. The 1.058-mile flat track commonly known as “The Magic Mile” has been the site of some magical moments over Newman’s Sprint Cup career.

As part of the 2013 Chase field, Newman and the No. 39 team are peaking at the right time. Since winning the 20th annual Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July, Newman has scored three top-five finishes and four top 10s, and his only finish worse than 14th came at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, where a late-race incident led him to finish three laps down with a badly damaged racecar. And, after opening the Chase with a 10th-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., last weekend, Newman and his Matt Borland-led team advanced four positions to eighth in the standings, 28 points behind series leader Matt Kenseth.

With his four most recent race wins coming on flat tracks – Phoenix International Raceway in April 2010, New Hampshire in July 2011, Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in April 2012 and Indianapolis in July, Newman is looking forward to coming “home” to New Hampshire this weekend. It always brings back great memories thanks to his previous successes at the track with the ever-present potential to bring additional successes. This weekend, a trip to victory lane in the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS could go a long way in his quest to become the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.


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.”

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, I still don’t know the answer 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.”

It’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.”

Talk about running not only the Sprint Cup Series race this weekend but the Modified race, as well.
“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. 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.”

- True Speed Communication for Stewart-Haas Racing

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