KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – “I believe in America because we have great dreams – and because we have the opportunity to make those dreams come true.” – Wendell L. Wilkie (American corporate lawyer and 1940 presidential nominee)
Ryan Newman readily admits that he lives his dream every weekend on the racetrack.
The story goes that when Newman was born in December 1977, his proud papa announced right then and there in the delivery room that his baby boy would be a racecar driver. At the young age of 4, Newman got his first racecar, a Quarter Midget, and began going in circles.
Thanks to a lot of hard work and sacrifices along the way, Newman hasn’t stopped racing. Newman is now in his 12th full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and, Sunday, he will make his 12th career start at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway.
At Sonoma, Newman will celebrate another American dream that became a reality through hard work and dedication.
His No. 39 Chevrolet SS will pay tribute to the 30th anniversary of Haas Automation – the largest machine tool builder in the western world – with a special paint scheme honoring the company that Gene Haas founded in 1983. Haas is also the co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing with three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart.
The company has always produced top-quality products at affordable prices, and all are built in the USA – in the company’s facility in Oxnard, Calif. – which is something Haas takes great pride in doing.
Haas Automation’s commitment to building an American-made product has also helped keep prices of machine tools down. For example, a machine the company first built 1988 sold then for just less than $50,000. Today, that same machine continues to sell for less than $50,000.
Haas Automation is an American success story, and this weekend, Newman hopes to celebrate his sponsor’s success with some success of his own on the 1.99-mile, 10-turn road course nestled in California’s wine country.
With 16 Sprint Cup Series wins to his credit, Newman would like to add a road-course victory to that tally.
In 11 starts at Sonoma, Newman has two top-five finishes and five top-10s. He has completed all 1,217 laps contested there since his rookie campaign in 2002, and he even scored a runner-up finish in 2006.
With 11 races to go until the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins, Newman sits 18th in points, 28 points out of the Chase. As a team fighting for a spot in this season’s Chase, Newman & Company hopes to not only improve on its recent finishes at the Sonoma road course, but also contend for the win.
There would be no better way to honor all the hard work that made dreams become reality and to kick off Haas Automation’s 30th anniversary celebration than with a victory in the company’s home state.
RYAN NEWMAN, Driver of the No. 39 Haas Automation 30th Anniversary Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
This weekend, your car carries a special paint scheme paying tribute to Haas Automation’s 30th anniversary. Talk about that. “It’s pretty cool that Gene Haas started this company in a garage, and 30 years later it’s still going strong. Haas Automation is the largest machine-tool builder in the western world, and they do it all right there in California. Everything is built in America, and I’m very proud to be associated with a company that has continued to be able to build its products in America and keep prices down. Haas Automation is definitely an American success story, and we need to celebrate that. We’ve never gotten a Haas Automation car in victory lane in the Sprint Cup Series, and I think it would be fitting to get their first Sprint Cup win in this car, especially considering all that Gene and the company have done in racing over the years.”
Do you approach a road-course race differently than other races on the circuit? How is a road-course race different for the driver? “Not really. Once we get there, we attack it and do our thing like we do any other race weekend. Road-course racing is physically demanding, and mentally, as well. It’s really a lot of fun to hustle the car around the racetrack. It’s definitely challenging, just doing what you can to save fuel on a road course, which is one of the hardest things you can ever do inside a racecar, in my opinion. It’s a big track-position game and, if you qualify well, you have a chance to race well. If you don’t, your challenge will be to make a bunch of passes and race hard all day.”
How do you think the new car will perform on a road course like Sonoma? “I think it’s safe to say it’s going to be faster. I don’t know if that means we are going to have more passing, or less passing, or what the exact situation is going to be. But faster usually leads to more braking, and more braking usually leads to more heat, and I think it’s definitely going to be a situation where you want to have track position, which is no different than it ever has been at Sonoma. We had a one day test. Us and Danica (Patrick) actually went to VIR (Virginia International Raceway in Alton) to basically knock the rust off the drivers, try a couple of things for the crew chiefs and get the cars ready to make sure everything was good. I feel like, on our side, we’ll be competitive and we’ll see what happens. But the Gen 6 car has proven to be a faster racecar, pretty much at every racetrack we’ve been. Sometimes the weather conditions are not conducive for it, but we are breaking a lot of track records this year.”
It’s the 25th anniversary of road course racing and Sprint Cup racing at Sonoma. What are your earliest memories of the race in Sonoma each year, watching it on TV, or what are some of your earliest memories of the place? “I guess, as an avid NASCAR fan, watching something that’s so totally different from a racing standpoint than the ovals. I think it’s just, you know, when you’re a fan looking at it, it’s different than being a racecar driver looking at it because a driver, he just drives a racecar. But as a fan, you see the oval side of it and then you go to the road courses and you see – like it’s a totally different kind of – what are these cars doing, these are road race cars, not NASCAR stock cars. It’s just a different perspective of when I was younger than what I have now, is what I’m trying to say.”
What do you think about road-course racing? “I like road courses. They are difficult to pass on. It seems like there are only a couple of passing zones. I’ve always said, ‘The more corners there are without passing zones, the more opportunities there are to fall behind the guy who’s in front of the guy who’s in front of you.’ Road courses are unique in their own right. I wish we had a third one because I think they are fun. I enjoy hustling the racecar around the track, and Sonoma’s a good road course. Personally, I enjoy Watkins Glen a bit more, but I enjoy them both and I look forward to racing out there. It’s a big track-position race, and fuel mileage has become a big part of the racing there. But it’s the same for everybody. In road-course racing, the driver, in my mind, can make up more than he can at an oval just being able to hustle a car. You have the added mannerism, I guess you could say, of braking. When you brake at short tracks, it’s not the same as when you brake and downshift. So, you have to be a smooth downshifter, you have to be a good braker. Obviously, you have to turn right. There are extra characteristics, I guess, that you have to include at road courses that you don’t have to include at ovals. That separates the men from the boys, typically.”