Ryan Newman was a contender for the win Sunday at Talladega, AL. That is, until Lady Luck stepped in.
It certainly looked as if Newman would get a good finish at the unpredictable race track where anything can happen and often times does. Newman ran a great race.
The single car, bumper-to-bumper racing at Talladega has been replaced by tandem racing, where two cars line up and run as one, combining horsepower for maximum speed.
Newman described the new style of racing at Tallagadega simply as 'different.' He is far less critical of tandem racing than he was about the bumper-to-bumper draft that used to categorize restrictor-plate racing. Restrictor-plate racing was mandated by NASCAR to slow the cars by reducing using a device to restrict the amount of air that flows into the carburetor.
Dual racing took root this year at Daytona due to changes in the aerodynamics of the cars. It takes some of the control away from drivers, but not nearly as much as the way it used to be, where a driver was completely at the mercy of all the other cars around him. The two-car draft returns control to drivers, even though the control is shared in a type of buddy system where a driver is reliant on whomever he chooses to work. Running together compensates for the subtracted horsepower implemented by the restrictor plate. Newman is among many drivers that dislike restrictor plate racing. Talladega and Daytona are the only two tracks that require it.
Working with various partners during Sunday's race, depending on who was nearby during restarts, Newman was especially fast, paired with Denny Hamlin. Hamlin pushed Newman to speeds nearing 200 mph. The two easily made their way from the back of the pack toward the front.
That was their intention in the last laps of the race, but with about 20 left to go in the 188-lap race, as Hamlin got to Newman's bumper, Newman got turned around.
At that instant, Newman and everyone watching him, had visions of the November 2009 race when close racing resulted in Newman's car spinning around backwards and lifting off the ground, standing vertical and doing numerous pirouettes as it landed on its hood in the infield. Newman was unhurt in the heart-stopping crash.
This time though, Newman saved it, despite his race car positioned at nearly 90-degrees from the direction he was headed, the car bounced off the tire of Juan Pablo Montoya. Newman righted it, much to the shock of the announcers, spectators, other drivers, and probably Newman himself. No caution was called so he kept on racing, losing suprisingly little time. The impact however, resulted in enough damage to cause his tires to rub. When one of them let go, Newman headed for the wall, but again, he saved it. Check out the video at NASCAR.com.
Those two saves were epic, even though they caused him to finish a mere 25th.
Despite the lackluster finish Newman remains in 7th place in the points standings, only 42 points behind leader Carl Edwards.
But this was Talladega. Not only did Newman finish the race, but his once mediocre results at super speedway tracks is behind him. Newman was bad fast. He just needs a little better relationship with Lady Luck.