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Monday, October 7, 2013

Newman/Borland team; what will become of them?

Working out the scanner issues
Working out the scanner issues (Photo credit: purduenila)

As I was listening to the radio communication between Stewart- Haas Racing's Ryan Newman, driver of the #39 car and his Crew Chief, Matt Borland, Sunday at Kansas, I began to wonder about next year. 

Changes always require a period of adjustment, but I can't help but wonder what will become of the long-time relationship between these two. They have built a real team, both on the race track and off. Yet in 2014 Ryan Newman will move to Richard Childress Racing; his crew chief will be Luke Lambert on the #31 Caterpillar/Quicken Loans car. There has been no word on the future of Matt Borland. Will he remain with Stewart-Haas Racing, or follow Newman, as occurred when Newman joined Stewart-Haas.

These two have been through so much together. From 2001 to 2006, the two worked well together at Penske Racing, scoring 12 wins and 37 poles. Following a brief separation, they coalesced once more under the Stewart-Haas banner. Borland was hired in an engineering capacity, but returned as Crew Chief to Ryan Newman's #39 car last year. The result brought an end to Newman's winless streak at New Hampshire and a big win this summer at Indianapolis. Newman has also posted top speeds, giving him the pole twice in recent months.

There is no question that the two, both with engineering backgrounds, and an analytic approach to problem-solving, work well together. They are personal friends. Matt was the best man at Ryan and Krissie Newman's wedding.

Added pressure of the last few races of this season; perhaps the last races the two will work together, are undoubtedly stressful. It was made more so, according to the sense I got from hearing the tone of the voices over the radio at Kansas yesterday. Newman just happened to be the collateral damage when Justin Allgaier lost control of his car, hit the wall and slammed into Newman. The damage was severe, though the team worked hard to get Newman back onto the track to earn one more position before the race ended.

The situation called for some tense moments, as the crew had to practically rebuild the back end of the race car as well as the right side. Borland urged the team to calm down and just do their jobs. But that normally cool demeanor was preceded by a few raised voices and loud directives. It was not a good day for the #39 team. The result was losing five places in the points. If it wasn't for bad luck, Newman would have no luck at all. The team never gave up however. They got Newman fixed up, back on the track in time to make up one more position. Every point counts. He finished the race in 35th position. 
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