“Can you pick up and have the same success you enjoyed together in the past?”
That has been the most popular question asked of Quicken Loans driver Ryan Newman and crew chief Matt Borland since being reunited as a duo for the first time since the end of the 2006 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series campaign.
In its five full seasons together in the Sprint Cup Series from 2002 to 2006, the Newman-Borland combination produced 12 victories, 37 poles, 52 top-five finishes and 83 top-10s. It also generated top-10 finishes in the season-ending points after each of its first four seasons of full-time competition.
While it’s still too early to know the answer to the question this time around, the duo’s first race together in six years this past weekend at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway proved the heart and determination to be competitive and be in contention for a victory has not wavered.
It may not have been the win or even the top-10 finish they had hoped to secure in their first race together again, but Newman, Borland and the entire No. 39 Quicken Loans team staged an impressive comeback at the Virginia short track Sunday.
In the final 120 laps of the 500-lap event, Newman rallied from 28th place, two laps down, to finish 11th and on the lead lap. It was Newman’s 20th top-15 finish this season. All in all, it was a successful homecoming for Borland as he returned atop the pit box and called the shots for Newman.
With Quicken Loans, the nation’s largest online retail mortgage lender, adorning the No. 39 Chevy at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500, the homecoming continues and the Newman-Borland duo hopes to improve upon the solid 11th-place finish at Martinsville.
Newman’s lone victory on the 1.5-mile Texas oval came in 2003 under Borland’s tutelage. In addition to that victory, Newman has two poles, three top-five finishes and three top-10s in 18 career starts at Texas.
Since joining Stewart-Haas Racing in 2009, Newman has four top-15 finishes in seven starts at Texas, and he has finished in the top-20 all but once.
With Newman’s last top-10 finish at Texas coming in April 2008, when he finished fourth, the No. 39 team is hoping the newly reunited driver-crew chief tandem can get back on the right track and produce a solid performance at the Fort Worth racetrack.
There’s no doubt the unique pairing of the engineering majors – Newman a graduate of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., and Borland a graduate of the General Motors Institute of Technology in Flint, Mich. – involved a technical understanding that sparked and sustained its past success.
The two speak a common language. When Newman explains what the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet is doing, Borland understands what he needs to do to the racecar to make it better for the driver.
That’s what makes this reunited pair feel so good about the future and this weekend, when Newman and Borland will be put to the test with the challenging and fast Texas racetrack. It’s certainly an ideal venue for the two to rise to the next level. And in the end, the goal for Newman and Borland is to get back to their winning ways of the past.