User-agent: * Allow: / CH on Track: March 2011


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ryan Newman's season--no surprise for his fans

While there seems to be a real media buzz about Ryan Newman's fast start to great results this season, I can't help but wonder, where have all these pundits been? 

Ryan Newman has always had the potential and the skill to drive fast, drive well, and win races. 

But as it is so often noted, scoring a great finish is all about teamwork. The driver may be the most visible member of the team, but he can not do it alone. All of the elements that make up a race team have to be in sync to achieve success in such a close and hard-fought competition. 

I've been watching Newman for the last several years. I detest and have attempted to dispute, some of the criticism I've heard, often in this very blog.  
I've witnessed his frustrations with bad pit stops that lose precious positions on the field; an out-of-balance race car where tight conditions won't allow the car to turn or loose conditions that make it impossible to consistently stay in the gas; wrecks that were not of his doing; mechanical failures; tire issues; etc. The list goes on.

The only difference this season, is timing. This season, Newman and his entire team are on the same page, working together. That means, not just the driver, but the crew chief and all the crew members from the tire changer to the gas man, the engine-builders, the chassis builders, and even Lady Luck, the one that has turned on Newman so many times in the past.

Anyone who follows Newman knows that he is not doing anything differently than he ever does. He is going for the win every week, but sometimes the wind is in your back and other times it is in your face. Newman just happens to have the wind at his back for now. I hope it continues throughout the season.

Good luck at Martinsville!


Monday, March 28, 2011

Third top-five finish; 2nd in points

A good day for Ryan Newman
As Ryan Newman was introduced at Sunday's NASCAR event, the Auto Club 400 in California, who would have thought he would have such a great run?

Newman started in the 9th position and finished 5th.

Of the five races this season, Newman has finished in the top 10 for four of them, three of which were in the top five! 

Newman's third top-five in California this weekend, catapulted him into 2nd in the points' standings.

Newman was fast!

Not only did Newman run in the top 10 all day, but got out in front and led laps. One of those was the fastest lap of the afternoon. He was clocked at 180.737 mph.

The only one who had a better day than Ryan Newman was Kevin Harvick

Harvick breathed life into a race that was pretty much lifeless for 400 miles. The race had been 500 miles before the decision was made last year to shorten the event. At almost the last moment, on the last lap, Harvick pulled around the outside of Jimmie Johnson just in time to meet up with the checkered flag. It was a beautiful thing to watch, giving a whole new complexion to the afternoon. 

Harvick now stands in 9th place in the driver points' standings.  

*My thanks to my friend Jerry Connor for the photo

Monday, March 21, 2011

Teammates tied for 3rd place in standings

NASCAR stats this week following the Bristol race is a thing of beauty, at least in my mind.

Ryan Newman is tied for third place with teammate/bossman Tony Stewart. 

Beautiful is probably not the descriptor for Tony Stewart or his fans, however. Stewart came into the Tennessee race leading in points, but an ill-handling race car and a tangling in front of him that caused him to slam into the back of Newman's car, combined to give Stewart a less than stellar run at Bristol. He finished 19th despite leading the field in an early practice.

Newman's race car wasn't quite right either, though a good pit strategy allowed him to lead a couple dozen laps. That was in stark contrast to a little bounce off the wall, but saving it. Ultimately, Newman finished 10th. Despite poor handling, both Stewart-Haas teammates had fast race cars.  

Newman and Stewart have both commented about their affection for racing at Bristol. Both have a good short-track history.

Despite their 10- and 19-place finishes, Stewart-Haas Racing is off to a good start in the 2011 season.

Congratulations to Kyle Bush for his win at Bristol. Now it is off to California.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Meet Tony Gibson, Ryan Newman's Crew Chief

"Crew chief Gibson coming full circle" is a good read.

This well-done story and video by Ryan McGee for ESPN The Magazine, is about NASCAR's Tony Gibson, crew chief for the #39 car, driven by Ryan Newman. He speaks to the similarities of working with Newman, an engineer with a college degree. Gibson made the comparison between Newman and another driver Gibson worked with --Alan Kulwicki. Kulwicki's racing career was cut short when he was killed in a plane crash in 1993.

Read the story by clicking here

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It's Bristol Baby!

It is always exciting to get back to racing after an off-week, but never so much as when getting back to racing means It's Bristol Baby!

Racing at Bristol Motor Speedway, dubbed the World's Fastest Half-Mile, is always exciting to watch. For drivers like Ryan Newman, racing at Bristol is like getting back to basics where he can draw on his extensive short-track racing experience.

Newman set the record at the high-banked, half mile oval in 2003 where he clocked a qualifying speed of 128.709 miles per hour. He made it around the track in a mere 14.908 seconds. 

Not only does Newman hold the track record, but he has a good 'track record' at Bristol Motor Speedway. With 18 career starts there, he has finished in the top 10 ten times; once in the top five, and has sat on the pole twice. While at Stewart-Haas Racing, he has started four times, and finished better than seventh at three of them. 

Newman goes to Bristol Motor Speedway with momentum on his side. He is currently ranked 5th in points, just 10 points back from his owner/teammate Tony Stewart who tops the points standings. Newman has finished the last two races in the top five. While a crash, not of his doing, took him out in the last laps at Daytona's season opener, Newman led the most laps in that race.
This year, which marks the 50th Anniversary of racing at Bristol Motor Speedway, promises to be as action-packed as ever.
Wouldn't it be nice to see Ryan Newman be the first to cross the checkers this Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Arkansas women doubly proud of NASCAR race results

Danica Patrick at the premiere of Baby Mama in...
Danica Patrick at the premiere of Baby Mama in New York City at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Mark Martin may be the man but Danica Patrick is the woman!

Not only did we women of Arkansas get to watch our native son, Mark Martin from Batesville, AR win the Sam's Town 300 at Las Vegas, but we watched Danica Patrick make NASCAR history.

Mark Martin brings it home

It was great to watch Mark Martin back in victory lane, a place he has been 95 times before.

His #32 Dollar General Chevy owned by Turner Motor Sports finished first at Las Vegas, ending a long winless streak. Martin hasn't won since 2009 at Phoenix. He went without a win during his entire 2010 season.

Martin was in the right place at the right time Saturday, as led only one lap during the race--the only one that really counts. Taking every advantage, he was nearly out of gas when he passed Brad Kezelowski, the race leader, who cut a tire, allowing Martin to cruise to victory.

It was a first win for Turner Motor Sports who enjoyed a good finish last week as well when Ryan Newman brought the #30 car home in fourth place.

And for the ladies, the big news of the day

Saturday's race has made history, as Danica Patrick, driver of the #7 GoDaddy Chevy, finished the race in fourth place. It is a career-best finish for her, and makes her the first woman driver in NASCAR ever to achieve such a finish.

Patrick broke a record that has stood since 1949 when Sara Christian came in fifth.

Patrick said she was secretly hoping for a finish in the top 10, but instead it was in the top five. In reality, what she really accomplished was a history-making fourth.
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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

All Ryan Newman weekend at Phoenix

With the first two races of the 2011 season, it was a positive weekend for Ryan Newman.

During Sunday's race at Phoenix, Newman clawed his way into the top 10 in points with his #39 Tornados Chevy. He is listed in 8th place, but so is 7th-place Bobby Labonte and 9th-place Juan Pablo Montoya. 

When Newman started the race, he was in 24th place, reflective of his involvement in two last-laps crashes that put him out of contention for the win. While he finished that race in 22nd place, Newman had a much better potential, evidenced by his leading the most laps. He finished the race, even though he had to practically limp across the finish line. See previous story.

Newman started the Phoenix race in 14th, but ended it in fifth. He also led laps during Sunday's race as he fought twice to get ahead of the pack.

Fifth place at Phoenix was certainly respectable, though not quite what Newman was after. His last performance at the spring race there resulted in a win--Newman's last win. But he can certainly be proud of the run and the finish at Phoenix. Who knows how the outcome would have been had there not been a few hiccups on pit road. There were a few less than stellar pit stops that lost him track position.

Newman showed his grit at Daytona and his resilience at Phoenix.

Newman also ran in the Nationwide race at Phoenix the day before. He motored the #30 Dollar General car owned by Turner Motorsports. He started in sixth place, but finished fourth.

Friday night after the truck series, Newman appeared on Trackside on Speed TV. The conversation covered many aspects of his life of late, from his being a new father, to his win at Daytona in 2008, and general racing questions. 

Of course there was footage of his infamous crash at Talladega, to which Newman simply said, "I don't want to look." Who can forget that horrific accident that caused everyone watching to hold their breaths until they heard his voice on the radio?

The following day, Darrell Waltrip who co-hosted the show said Newman is normally quiet, but commented, "He was on a roll Friday."

Newman also appeared on Race Hub during the week.