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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ryan Newman holds wildcard

Ryan Newman prepares to race
photo courtesy of Quicken Loans
Even while battling a bout with the flu, Ryan Newman wheeled his way to an impressive 8th place finish Sunday at Michigan International Speedway. It was enough to put an exclamation point on his hard-earned  wildcard spot as he contends for the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.

I admit feeling a little queasy when I learned Newman had the flu and that a backup driver was standing by. My nerves were settled however when I heard his resolve during a pre-race interview with Wendy Venturini. He sounded la bit under the weather but said he would feel better when settled into the seat behind the wheel of his race car.

As I listened to most of the pre-race coverage, I was struck by the total lack of coverage about Newman being in the wildcard spot. After all, he had the most points of drivers outside the top 10 that had won a race. He was among good company; most notably Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch. Even Joey Logano and Marcos Ambrose were considered in close contention. Nearly all of them were mentioned extensively, except for Newman who actually held the spot. It was almost as if Newman was just simply replaceable by one of those other elite drivers.

It kinda ticks me off to hear this kind of banter. It is blatantly unfair to Newman who is certainly as capable, if not more so, than any of those other drivers.

That's OK; he showed them as he fought his way to finish in the top 10 which keeps him in the wildcard spot.

I think I would fall off my chair if I ever heard Newman's name uttered in any sort of positive light by his former teammate Rusty Wallace, who is now an ESPN commentator. We all know that Ryan and Rusty are not friends, but Rusty is in the news business now. He should put his personal feelings aside and man up to a little journalistic integrity. His bias shouldn't be so blatant.

I wonder what races would be like if real sports journalists called races instead of guys with long histories and relationships with specific drivers or teams. Never mind--NASCAR won't let that happen.

It is worth saying that while Rusty Wallace is an example of the most biased, I think Kyle Petty does a decent job. He is probably the most fair of the talking heads.

Still, I can't help but wonder how many times during race day coverage is the name "Jeff Gordon" or "Dale Earnhardt, Jr." invoked, in comparison with mention of "Ryan Newman."

Congratulations to Greg Biffle, who won the Michigan race. Biffle tries hard and is deserving. Not only was it nice to see Greg Biffle in Victory Lane, but it was very sweet to see Ryan Newman remain in the Chase standings.

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