Different Directions For Stewart Haas

The first four races for the Stewart-Haas Racing team couldn't have gone differently for its two drivers, as Tony Stewart sits sixth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings and Ryan Newman is dangerously close to dropping out of the Top 35.

While Stewart has knocked down three eighth-place finishes in the season's first four events, his teammate Newman has been engulfed in bad luck, mechanical problems and more bad luck.

After starting the year going through three cars during Daytona "Speedweeks," Newman has suffered with everything from a loose rear wing at Fontana to engine malfunctions in Atlanta.

It's added up to a frustrating start for the next phase of Newman's career since leaving Penske Championship Racing for Stewart-Haas.

"It takes everything working right to run well," Newman said. "All it takes is one little thing to take you out of contention or take you out of position to be a winner. Throughout the rest of the season I'm sure the racing luck will cycle around."

His most recent outing at Atlanta Motor Speedway was plagued by engine woes which at the end of the day relegated Newman to a 22nd-place finish.

"Our Haas Automation Chevy was pretty good today," Newman said after the race. "We had some handling issues, but Tony Gibson (crew chief) and the guys adjusted on the car and gave me a really competitive machine.

"At the end, I think we maybe had a top-10 car, but we lost a cylinder and that put us behind. We were right in cycle to be the next guy for the 'lucky dog' and we just lost that cylinder and that set the tone for the rest of our day."

Despite his precarious spot in the standings only three positions ahead of the final Top 35 cut-off position, Newman is still positive about his future and that he made the right choice to join his new team.

"People have asked me is it like starting over on a clean sheet of paper," Newman said. "No, it's not. I've got all my old notes and all the things I did wrong and all the things I did right. I also have the opportunity to start a new chapter to move on and create a different ending."

Stewart hopes his ending brings more of what he's enjoyed at the beginning of the season.

The two-time Sprint Cup Series champion has been a model of consistency and his eighth-place run last week at AMS gave Stewart more optimism about what lies ahead for the new team.

"It is going to be strong," Stewart said. "It is strong already and it is going to be really strong. You know, there are a lot of guys that had problems today and never recovered from it. I mean the No. 18 [of Kyle Busch] got two laps down and never recovered. Guys that stayed on the lead lap all day at some point had a problem and never could recover. We got two laps down and fought our way back.

"At this place, that is hard to do. Jimmie Johnson did it last year and almost won the race because of it. It just shows that it is really hard to do that. There are not very many guys that can come back from two laps down like that, so I am really proud of the team."

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