It could be argued that there’s no track on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit Ryan Newman is better at getting around than Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
It was at the 1.5-mile track, largely considered to be the home track for many of NASCAR’s teams, where Newman first made a big splash. And he’s hoping the track will once again prove to be home sweet home for his No. 39 Quicken Loans Racing team, which will play host to Raphael the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle this weekend.
There’s no doubt Newman has made himself right at home in Charlotte since the beginning of his stock car career.
In 2001, in just his third Sprint Cup start while running a partial schedule, Newman shocked the field with a ninja-fast qualifying lap at Charlotte, which earned him the pole position for that year’s Coca-Cola 600. That feat tied Newman with Mark Martin for earliest career Sprint Cup pole.
The following season, Newman once again stunned his competitors when he claimed victory in the 2002 NASCAR All-Star Race in his rookie season. The win was Newman’s first in the Sprint Cup Series, and he won the non-points race in dramatic fashion.
Since Newman didn’t have a Sprint Cup win to his credit at that time, he had to race his No. 12 Penske Racing machine into the main event. Newman transferred into the All-Star Race by winning the 16-lap “No Bull Sprint,” as it was called in 2002.
In the main event, Newman benefited from the inversion of the race field for the final 20 laps. He took the lead two laps into the final segment and never looked back. Although Dale Earnhardt Jr., made a late-race dash, Newman beat him to the finish by .158 of a second to become only the second rookie to win the All-Star Race.
Since that first start at Charlotte back in 2001 when he grabbed the top spot, the South Bend, Ind., native has continued to rack up pole positions at the track. He now has nine poles to his credit at Charlotte – the most of any active Sprint Cup driver. In fact, he is second in all-time poles at the 1.5-mile oval behind the legendary David Pearson, who had 14.
And while he has not recorded a points-paying Sprint Cup win at the racetrack, he does have two wins in addition to his All-Star Race feat – an ARCA victory in 2000 and a NASCAR Nationwide Series victory in 2005.
In 23 Charlotte starts, Newman has four top-five and eight top-10 finishes. In seven starts at Charlotte since joining Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), Newman has five finishes of 14th or better, including his best-ever finish – a second-place effort in May 2009.
It’s obvious that the high-banked, fast racetrack nestled in the heart of NASCAR country is somewhere Newman feels right at home, which is perfect since Quicken Loans, the nation’s largest online retail mortgage lender, adorns the No. 39 Chevy this weekend at Charlotte.
And while the Charlotte racetrack is just like home for Newman, Quicken Loans announced last week that its home for 18 races next season would be the No. 39 SHR Chevrolet.
To celebrate its renewed commitment to Newman and the team, Quicken Loans announced its Skip-a-Year Mortgage Sweepstakes, which fans can enter by visiting www.qlracing.com. Quicken Loans will make a full year of mortgage payments for up to five entrants, making their homes even more enjoyable.
Six races remain in the 2012 season, and Newman continues to strive to be the best of the non-Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship drivers. He’s currently 14th in points, 47 out of 13th. With nine top-10 finishes in the last 13 races, Newman hopes to continue building on that momentum to finish the season on a strong note.
With Raphael the Ninja Turtle at home on the Quicken Loans Chevy this weekend, Newman hopes he can tap into some of the fighting turtle’s strengths to finally celebrate a hometown win and be the “hero-in-a-half-shell” in victory lane at Charlotte.