Newman Ready for Michigan
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on June 12, 2013 | 9:05 A.M. EST
Newman is currently 18th in the standings. (Photo: Getty Images)
Among the congratulatory texts Jimmie Johnson received after his victory last weekend at Pocono Raceway was one from Ryan Newman.
“It was good running with you again," Newman texted.
In an up-and-down season, Newman ran at the front with Johnson at Pocono. After leading a season-high 19 laps, Newman placed fifth, matching his Daytona 500 result for best finish of the year.
Although pit strategy helped Newman to the front - he assumed the lead on lap 68 by not pitting when the rest of the field did - it was how his car drove that meant the most to him.
“I think that we were the most competitive that we’ve been in quite a while," Newman said. “I feel that we can carry that into Michigan and a few other places like Indianapolis as well."
Newman’s recent run parallels the improvements at Stewart-Haas Racing. Teammate Tony Stewart has scored three consecutive top-10 finishes. They, along with rookie Danica Patrick, had struggled with the car’s handling early in the season. Before Sunday’s race, Newman had led only 11 laps all year.
“It did feel good to be back up front," Newman said.
The question is how much of that speed can carry over to the 2-mile Michigan track this weekend?
“I think a percentage of it does," Newman said. “I mean, if you look at from our side on the Hendrick engine side, those guys are doing a great job and you look at the Toyota guys and they are having to pull the pin on a couple of their performance situations and knock back a little bit of their performance at a track that you have to have engine horsepower.
“Michigan, because of the repave, I think is more similar than ever to Pocono, especially like Turn 1 because of the banking and the speed that you carry down into turn one at Pocono."
With Sunday’s race presented by Newman’s sponsor, Quicken Loans, some could view it as additional pressure but not him.
“For me, I look at it from this perspective: If I go out there and do my job as a driver, then I'm protecting my relationship with my sponsor and with my team and everybody else, and the second part of that is, you would think that it would be self centered but it's really not," he said. “If you take care of the one, it takes care of everything else.
“There's no pressure from the outside. From my perspective it's an opportunity to do something even greater, to win your own race as a title sponsor and a car sponsor. I've had the opportunity to do it before and haven't, so I look forward to another opportunity."
Just as meaningful would be to win on Father’s Day - again. He won on that day there in 2004. He remembers a talk he had with his dad before that race.
“I said “This is the only thing I'm going to try to get you is this victory and there's no guarantee to, but know that I'm trying’ and that's enough for my dad because he's a racer,’" Newman said.
“So I look forward to Father's Day weekend now for two reasons, because I still try to win each and every race for my dad, especially Father's Day weekend, but obviously for my two girls, as well."