Newman Has Patience For Michigan

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BROOKLYN, Mich. -- One year later, what has Ryan Newman learned about stock car racing? The competition is stiff, the cars are fast, and he can hang with the best of the best.

The team had planned to run the ARCA Flagstar 200 at Michigan Speedway, but after a successful outing at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in May, they opted to try their hand in NASCAR Winston Cup at another track where they have experience.

“After running so well at Charlotte, we really thought about bringing that car to run [Winston] Cup in Michigan,” said crew chief Matt Borland. “Our original plan was to run Winston Cup at Michigan, and even though we made some changes in April, our schedule can change based on what we feel we need to do to get Ryan more experience. Our test there was good and Ryan is really comfortable on the track. We just went back to our original plan.”

Last June at the Michigan Speedway in the ARCA RE/MAX Series, Newman climbed into a Penske Racing South Ford Taurus to take his first turn at qualifying for a stock car event. For this visit, he plans to use what he learned in that race and during his April test for this weekend’s Winston Cup K-Mart 400.

“During our test, I applied what I learned over the past year,” Newman said. “It’s nice to go to a track where you know what you did at the last race and can apply it. I used what I learned watching the Winston Cup races last year and the knowledge I’ve gained so far at other tracks to make myself better at Michigan.”

Newman and his Borland-led team tested two cars (PRS-022 and PRS-031) at Michigan Speedway in April, but return with the car that the team last used at Charlotte, “Patience” (PRS-023). “Patience” is the first car that was built for this team and was named after the team won the ARCA race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in October of 2000 because Ryan “used a lot of patience to win.” In its last outing, Newman earned his first Winston Cup career pole in the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

With a proven car and track experience, the team hopes to improve on what they learned during the test.

“Last year we were working with a 1999 body and preparing for our first race,” said Michael Nelson, team engineer. “This time we tested with a 2001 body and since we’ve been together for a year, we could see where we were with the set up and that sort of thing.

In his first stock car start and first visit to the Irish Hills, Newman surprised the ARCA field by qualifying second for the 100-lap event. Although he had tested several Busch and ARCA cars, he had not qualified or raced a stock car to that point.

But no one would have ever known that once the green flag waved. For the first 21 laps, Newman held his starting position and on lap 22 he took the lead for two laps before pitting. On a restart on lap 29, the car had lost a cylinder, but Newman charged on. He kept up with the leaders through the remainder of the event and finished a surprising seventh.

“On each restart we would lose four or five positions because of the motor,” said Borland. “But he would work his way back through the field once he got going again. It was a good race. Newman passed five cars on the last lap alone, so the car was pretty good despite the engine problem.”

In the year since Newman made his appearance at Michigan, he has scored one Winston Cup pole in three starts, two Busch Series poles and track qualifying records at Darlington and Atlanta, two Busch top-ten finishes, and four ARCA wins in six starts including the season opening event at Daytona International Speedway.

Qualifying for the Winston Cup Kmart 400 is set for Friday at 3:00 p.m. (EDT). The 34-car field for Sunday's event will be set during the one round of two-lap qualifying. Sunday’s 200-lap, 400 mile race is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m. (EDT) with live coverage on FX (TV) and MRN Radio.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2001

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