Newman Needs Good Run

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Ryan Newman turned things around last season at Bristol Motor Speedway and the Stewart-Haas Racing driver looks to repeat that performance in Sunday's Food City 500.

Newman has started this season slowly, just as he did last year. He comes into Sunday's fifth race of the season 29th in the Sprint Cup Series point standings.

The Food City 500 will mark Newman’s 301st career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start and his 17th career Sprint Cup start at Bristol, which hasn't been one of his best tracks on the schedule. Newman’s best finish at the .533-mile bullring was a second-place effort, which came during the August night race in 2004 - his only top-five finish at Bristol.

But he did score a top 10 last March that helped get his season on track and Newman believes the same will hold true in 2010.

“I don’t know if it was Bristol or if it was just short tracks, in general, for the No. 39 team last year, but that was where we really seemed to excel," he said. "We had a really good short-track program from the get-go, and when we finished seventh at Bristol last March, I think that gave us some momentum that we really needed."

Despite not having a stellar record at the track, Newman still considers Bristol one of his favorites.

"I really like Bristol, and I always have," Newman said. "Then, you add the fact that Bristol is one of Tony Gibson’s favorite racetracks, and I think you saw that my driving style and the package Gibson put underneath me really worked well for us."

The lightning-fast Tennessee short track presents one of the toughest challenges on the NASCAR tour and Newman loves the unique layout.

“There’s no place like Bristol," he said. "I’ve told people before that Bristol is like a baby superspeedway. If something happens in front of you, it may not be your fault, but you can get caught up in somebody else’s wreck in the blink of an eye. I think that’s also one of the reasons emotions run so high at Bristol. You have to really be on your toes at Bristol and that seems to be where frustrations can rise and flame up quicker than at any other racetrack."

The change in track configuration a few years ago turned Bristol from a one lane track to a multi-groove facility and Newman is a fan of the new layout.

“I think the racing and the track are definitely better the way they are now," Newman said. "It was fun before, don’t get me wrong. It was really fun to hustle the car around there. Running that 14.90 back in 2003 was a blast. To me, the racing is better because it’s double-file. I’ve seen it and have been a part of three-wide racing there for the lead with the Nationwide Series a couple of years ago, when it was freshly done."

"I think it’s more a combination of the tire and the track than it is the age of the concrete. Concrete doesn’t change very much, if at all, over time. It’s more the combination of tire and the racing we can do with that tire."

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