KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – Although his 2013 results have varied from week to week, Ryan Newman is feeling optimistic not only about how his season is going, but also his chances of improving at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth this weekend, a racetrack where he doesn’t necessarily have the best record.
Newman kicked off the 2013 season by “Bringing it Home” in the form of a fifth-place finish in the season-opening Daytona 500, but that was followed by finishes of 40th and 38th, respectively, at Phoenix International Raceway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway. While those latter finishes certainly didn’t reflect the on-track performance of the No. 39 team, the record book will forever tell the tale of the day.
But things seemed to turn around for Newman. Finishes of seventh at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and 10th at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., seemed to have turned the tide. It appeared as if their bad luck was behind them and that they were going to be able to capitalize on strong runs by posting strong finishes.
Heading into Martinsville (Va.) Speedway with high hopes of defending his race win from 2012, Newman appeared to have a Quicken Loans Chevrolet that was up to the task, until a pair of flat tires would leave him eight laps down in 31st position.
That’s been Newman’s season. The 16-time Sprint Cup Series race winner has had strong racecars in each of the first six races so far, but he hasn’t always had the finishes to show for it. Had Newman been able to finish where he was running when misfortune struck at each of the three races where he’s scored less-than-desired results, he would likely find himself much higher than 23rd in points.
Since joining Stewart-Haas Racing in 2009, Newman’s best finish at Texas Motor Speedway is 11th, which came in the spring of 2010. However, the Quicken Loans driver knows how to get around the 1.5-mile speedway. Having claimed the checkered flag in March of 2003, Newman feels confident he can reclaim his previous success there.
On his side is an extra day of on-track testing at the ultra-fast “Great American Speedway.” For just the second time in 2013, and the first time under the lights, NASCAR’s sixth-generation Sprint Cup cars will race on a 1.5-mile oval. With almost a third of the races contested at such racetracks, Newman and crew chief Matt Borland will be able to apply some of what is learned in Thursday’s test session to not only to this particular race weekend, but to the bulk of the season, as well.
While the 2013 season has been a roller coaster-like ride for Newman and the Quicken Loans team, they aren’t letting their bad days get them down. Newman has remained upbeat, knowing that his results are not indicative of the team’s performance. However, he knows it’s time to make the most of their strong runs, and capitalize on the finishes.
RYAN NEWMAN, Driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
It’s not been the early season you’d hoped for. How difficult is it for you to keep your head up? “Well, we’re six races in. We have three top-10 finishes, and three finishes that were failures, of sorts. I still think of the positives. I mean, looking back to Martinsville, the first half of the race, our Quicken Loans Chevrolet was a good sixth- or seventh-place car, until we had the tire failure. We have speed in the cars every week. We’re learning a lot about these new sixth-generation racecars each week. They’ve thrown us for a bit of a loop with how we’re having to control the suspension, it’s definitely a very different racecar. I’m not at all worrying about having to stick my head in the dirt and look for earthworms. I’m thinking about the things we’ve done right, the runs we’ve had that have been good, our qualifying efforts and things like that. I’m looking forward to going to Texas this weekend. We’ve got a little bit of extra practice to try and learn some more about this new car. We’ll see if we can’t get the Quicken Loans Chevrolet at least in the top-five for the ‘Bring it Home’ sweepstakes, if not a win.”
Talk about racing at Texas. “I always look forward to racing at Texas. I love the speed at Texas. It’s a fast racetrack. Texas is actually one of the fastest tracks we go to all year, so you have to be on top of your game because things can happen pretty quickly. It’s a track I’ve always liked, although it doesn’t necessarily show in my finishes. It’s a smooth, fast racetrack and there are multiple grooves, so it’s fun to race there. The asphalt has aged the track to the point it has gotten better and better each time we come back. What I mean is, the track has basically gotten wider. It’s gotten a bit more character. A little more bumpy, which is fine. I like it. I think, in general, the track has gotten wider and racier each time we’ve come back. It’s got less grip, but that’s fine. I’d rather slide around a little bit and be in charge of my racecar than be stuck to the racetrack.”