Feeling like a kid on Christmas Eve, I'm excited to see Ryan Newman go to Phoenix International Raceway.
Daytona is always exciting, but it really isn't a good barometer of race car drivers' potential. So much can happen, usually does, and in Ryan's case, it did.
In Newman's mind, as well as probably all other drivers except for Matt Kenseth perhaps, the 2012 NASCAR racing season will start at Phoenix.
Newman's fans got a glimpse of what Ryan was able to do during the Daytona 500. There were times he was the fastest car on the track, driving in excess of 200 mph.
The flip side was as usual, due to circumstances beyond his control. It involved a spinout from a tire going down, and a pit road incident that resulted in his being two laps down. He never let up, fighting to get those laps back. When he finally got on the lead lap, he made it to the top 10 in a good position with four laps to go. He was inches away from being in the clear on the last crash of the night, as he made his way into the outside lane. Tony Stewart was about to meet up with him. The two had probably planned to draft in tandem toward the lead. It would have worked too, had Tony not been spun around. The result was that Tony Stewart got into Kyle Busch, who got into Ryan which sent him spinning. Pretty good, Newman was basically taken out by his teammate who was BEHIND him. Oh, Daytona!
Despite significant damage, Newman still managed to eek out a 21st-place finish.
Phoenix is nothing like Daytona. Phoenix is a drivers' race track, according to Newman. Its different corner configurations make it a challenge for a crew chief to get the car handling right. They do the best they can, but the driver has to make up the difference.
Phoenix is one of Newman's favorite tracks. It is where he got his start in what was then the Winston Cup back in 2000.
Newman got is first win at Phoenix in 2010. In nineteen starts there, Newman has seven top 5's; seven7 top 10's and started on the pole four times. He has led 171 laps there.