Newman Focused on Strong Finish with SHR

Ryan Newman

Ryan Newman has scored one NASCAR Sprint Cup victory each year since 2010, but he's looking for more in the final races of this season. (Photo: Getty Images)


With an engineer’s attention to detail, Ryan Newman does not focus on the drama he’s endured this season. He assess his season another way.

Of course he does. He holds a degree in Vehicle Structure Engineering. He looks at the world analytically.

So while most view Newman’s season through the ups and downs - not being retained by Stewart-Haas Racing after this season, moving to Richard Childress Racing next year, winning the Brickyard 400, missing the Chase and then being added to it after NASCAR penalized Michael Waltrip Racing for manipulating the Richmond finish - he keeps it simple.

Newman views this season in wins and poles.

He has one win and two poles entering this weekend’s race at Charlotte. For a driver who once won eight races and 11 poles in the same season, this year is not good enough.

“It’s been an average year,’’ he said. “Winning one race from the way I calibrate myself and (two) poles is not average. It’s probably a little below average. But we’ve achieved some pretty great things in 30 races from where we started in Daytona and the team (crew chief) Matt (Borland) put together that, in some cases, had very little experience. We’ve done great things with a crazy start.’’

A crazy start and crazy middle, but will it be a crazy finish as Newman prepares for the final six races of the season and the end of his five seasons at Stewart-Haas Racing?

It would be easy for some to figure Newman already is focused on next season with this title hopes all but over, but he say’s that’s not so.

“Entirely 100 percent focused on 2013,’’ said Newman, who is 12th in the season standings, 73 points behind series leader Matt Kenseth. “I mean, there's a sixth of the season still left. We have a lot of great opportunities, a lot of good racetracks to go to.’’

“Realistically, yeah, it's going to be a challenge (to win the title), but we can move up.  We can do good for our sponsors and ourselves and prove that, as I said before several times, Indianapolis was a great weekend for us, and we need to show that we can duplicate that again.’’

For a driver with such an analytical mind, Indianapolis is one track that impacts him emotionally and sends his mind swirling more than two months after that victory.

“To win at Indy, to kiss that yard of bricks, for me, ... (it’s) the history of every driver that not only didn’t win at Indy but tried to compete at Indy or wanted to compete at Indy because of how big Indy is,’’ he said.

Newman calls that win equal to his Daytona 500 victory.

From the highs of Indianapolis came the lows of Richmond. Newman was leading late when Clint Bowyer spun. Newman lost the lead on pit road during that caution and finished tied with Martin Truex Jr. for the final Wild Card spot. Truex got the spot via a tiebreaker.

“The toughest part of that whole Richmond weekend was to know that we put ourselves in position, put ourselves in contention to make it all happened,’’ Newman said during a visit to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Newman admitted he had a “hunch’’ after the race something wasn’t right about the final laps of that race.

Then came the elation two days later after learning that NASCAR’s penalties to MWR would allow Newman to make the Chase. But it came at a cost.

“It hurt my friend, my hunting buddy, my fishing buddy Martin,’’ Newman said of Truex. “It took him out of it when I 100 percent truly believe he knew nothing about it and was the sole byproduct of poor judgment and that made it bittersweet. That’s the toughest thing I’ve ever been through in racing, that weekend. I’ve been beat by people that have cheated, but I’ve never been beat, collectively, in a bent like that. It’s not that they had a cheated up spring or a cheated up spoiler or something like that, that’s different. The manipulation part of it was tough.’’

Once the checkered flag flies at Homestead next month, it will put an end to this season for the series. Newman then will begin his new journey with Richard Childress Racing. The question for a driver changing teams is how much information they bring with them about their former team to their new job.

“What information I have, what information we share amongst our teams, I respect that, I will not take that out of the door, I will not take that out the door early,’’ he said. “What I contain in my brain, the knowledge I have in what we do with our racecars and how we adjust our racecars that’s forever with me. That started when I racing quarter midgets. I don’t think that changes.’’

Not for someone who views the world through an engineer’s mindset. 

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