Newman Soldiers to Third in Homestead
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on November 19, 2012 | 9:00 A.M. EST
Ryan Newman holds his daughter Brooklyn Sage at Homestead-Miami Speedway. (Photo: Getty Images)
Ryan Newman carried the U.S. Army sponsorship colors for the final time last weekend and was able to bring home a third-place finish in the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The Stewart-Haas Racing driver followed race winner Jeff Gordon and runner-up Clint Bowyer across the finish line for the solid performance in Sunday’s season finale.
“Yeah, just a really great team effort,” said Newman. “We were probably one of the worst cars when it came to the short run and one of the best cars when it came to the long run, and we knew that going into the race. But just really proud of (crew chief) Matt Borland and all the guys. These last four races have been a lot of fun. They did an awesome job tonight in getting the right strategy and track position.”
Earlier this season, Army officials announced sponsorship would not return to the SHR organization, leaving the team with a hole to fill for next season.
But Newman was pleased to end his relationship with the Army on such a positive note Sunday.
“Still really proud to represent the U.S. Army, to get them a top five in their last race,” he said. “At least for a while in NASCAR, I think we did them pretty proud.”
While Newman’s teammate and boss Tony Stewart struggled Sunday to come home with a 17th-place finish, the No. 39 Chevrolet ran near the front of the pack a great deal of the race.
Since the addition of Borland as crew chief, a reunion that brought the duo back together after their days together at Penske Racing, Newman has seen significant improvement to remain optimistic about 2013.
"While our lives are different now than where we were back then, we're still as close as we've ever been," said Newman of Borland, who was the Best Man at his wedding in 2004.
Borland is hoping just working together more will bring the kind of results the team was able to generate Sunday in Homestead.
"The biggest thing is just being at the track more and being a lot more hands-on with the set-up side," he said. "The last four years I've been spending a lot more time working on parts for the car, working on more R&D type stuff whereas now it's more about tuning the car, making the most of it on that day.”
Recapturing the magic the pair shared during their Penske days, including a Daytona 500 victory, is the goal for next year and beyond.
We are going to do everything we can to get back to that, but a lot of the teams, that is what they are after, so it's a challenge," said Borland.