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Monday, November 17, 2014

Hello Newman, 97 days til Daytona

It's over! 

There are so many things to take away from the final race of the 2014 #NASCAR season at Homestead.

Congratulations to Kevin Harvick for capping off a great season and for exonerating NASCAR, freeing them from having to explain how a winless driver could take the title. Then again, Ryan Newman, who finished second wouldn't have been winless if he had just had another .5 seconds. 

Ryan Newman didn't win the race or the championship, but he certainly did the next best thing. In fact, he couldn't have done any more or any better. There were likely many who were surprised by Newman's performance. I wasn't one of them. I've watched him race the same way during the entire season. I have been a Ryan Newman fan since 2004 and have rarely, if ever, seen him not give it his all. 

As some have pointed out in media reports, Newman had a 10th place car that he drove to a 2nd place finish. That is just what Newman does. Thing is, he has never been on the media radar before. Television viewers have rarely ever hear Newman's name. 

It was said yesterday, and I've written it previously in CHonTrack that Ryan Newman is NASCAR's Rodney Dangerfield. Ryan Newman is not a typical NASCAR driver. His remarks are not always predictable, never scripted, and certainly not controlled. Newman is a free spirit and isn't afraid to speak his mind. He is also quick-witted with a dry sense of humor, which isn't always easily understood. Personally, I find those traits endearing, but I can see where NASCAR would have a problem, especially since NASCAR is so fond of controlling every aspect of their sport. 

Ryan Newman simply won't be controlled. NASCAR is fortunate however, because Newman loves what he does and causing it harm is likely the furthest thing from his mind. He just won't be manipulated.

Once the viewing public gets to know Newman, they will respect and admire him. They got a little glimpse of who he is in the final race because he had a spotlight shone on him. His situation of earning enough points to be a championship contender while not winning a race all year put him in such a unique position. It almost didn't happen. To earn the final point he needed to advance to the final round of the Chase for the Championship, Newman drifted up the race track on the last lap to move Kyle Larson out of the way. Passing one more car was all he needed to advance. 

Jeff Gordon fans were off the wall about how Newman cheated Gordon out of his rightful place in the final round, despite the fact that Newman did nothing out of the ordinary and certainly nothing other drivers hadn't done. 

So had that incident with Kyle Larson not opened up the can of drama that it did, Newman likely would have continued to fly just under the radar. No one would have ever gotten to see what his fans have always known--that Newman never gives up, gets the most out of his race car every single race, earns every point he gets, and was certainly entitled to contend for the championship. 

His grace under fire is always evident too, as seen in this NASCAR video

During post-race interviews, the disappointment and fatigue clearly showing on his face, Newman still managed to smile and acknowledged the bright side of the entire season. Make no mistake; Newman wanted to win the race and the title, but he didn't cry about coming in second. 

In one interview, Newman even joked about his loss being Jeff Gordon's fault, because had Gordon won at Phoenix, Harvick wouldn't be in the chase and he would have finished first of the four that were. That was Newman's way of poking fun at all the negative comments that were leveled against him by Jeff Gordon fans after the Phoenix race.

NASCAR came out a winner too

It appears NASCAR got it right when they changed the Chase format. There seemed to be more interest in the final races of the season. There was certainly more excitement and certainly more drama. That translates into interest which will hopefully will fill the increasingly empty seats.

As it turned out, winning was the necessary component needed to earn the coveted Spring Cup Championship trophy. There was ultimately no need to backpedal, make excuses, or apologize. Had Harvick not prevailed, Newman would have ended his winless streak, thus making the entire point moot. 

So, 97 days til Daytona!

Friday, November 14, 2014

My NASCAR history penned by my own husband; Go Ryan Newman

I've been a Ryan Newman fan for so long that I thought I'd look back at some of the stories I was able to get into print when I worked for a local newspaper in the small Illinois town where I lived.

I tried to get my boss to let me cover NASCAR on a regular basis but my wrestler-friendly, stick-and-ball aficionado owner hated the idea. Every now and then though, I did sneak in a story or two. Here's one from 2007, but I didn't write it. My husband did, as he wrote about my new-found obsession.

This was as close as I've ever been to a race car. It was the thrill of my life when
I heard the Alltel Dodge would be in my own home town for the opening of the new Alltel store. 

The Fast Lane, Realities of a NASCAR husband

by John Henrichs

I’ll be the first to admit that I love auto racing, but my love of the sport is now rivaled by that of my wife.

Growing up in the 50’s, there was no other subject that my friends and I would discuss more than cars, and how fast they could go.

On some occasions, my dad took me to a race at the now-defunct Raceway Park in Blue Island. The sights, sounds, and smells will live with me forever. A pack of cars racing around a quarter-mile asphalt track at 60 mph was a spectacle that I can still recall with near perfect detail. My personal favorite was James Bond driving the 007 Studebaker Hawk. I wanted to be just like him someday.

My wife, Carol was always a bit tepid about car racing. But a few years ago, after our son Chris became enamored with the sport, she began to take an interest in it.

Today, I find myself married to a NASCAR fanatic. Who would have imagined that after 30 years together that she would finally come around to my way of thinking?

Oh, but it’s more than just an interest with her. When she likes something, she becomes intensely immersed in it. It could be considered an obsession. She studies the issues, learns about the racetracks, conditions, even technicalities related to the cars. But mostly, she knows about the drivers, their crew chiefs and even some of the team members. Some she likes. Others she does not.

Through the magic of satellite television, there’s enough NASCAR programming to keep our interest peaked long into December and on most weekends. However, race day is the pinnacle of the week.

Carol’s favorite driver is Ryan Newman, who drives the #12 Alltel Dodge. On race day, we even set up a “shrine” to him on the wood stove (when it’s not in use, of course.) It contains a book about Newman’s racing career, given to her at Christmas, a small replica of the #12 car, a Ryan Newman hat, and some other small things.

She was a fan of Rusty Wallace, before he retired. He and Ryan were not-so-compatible teammates.

When we moved to Arkansas, we brought with us a life-size cutout of Rusty that was given to us, where it watches over our garage area.

As the hours tick by before the race begins, there’s a ritual that must take place. First, she has to make her “lucky” guacamole dip.

Then our aging laptop computer is set up to receive the in-car audio from the Internet, always set to the #12 team. It must all be done during the pre-race shows so we can catch the first radio checks between Ryan and Crew Chief Mike Nelson.

By the time the green flag has waved, we’re ready for whatever will be, always with the hope that the #12 will charge out to the front and make it to Victory Lane. That hasn’t happened in a long time.

Newman, who is nicknamed “Rocket Man,” has had a run of bad luck, but Carol always has high hopes of a comeback.

One of the main rules during the race is “No talking.” She doesn’t want to miss a thing on the track. And heaven help the driver that runs into Newman, or causes him to spin out.

As the race rolls along, she remains glued to the television, while we both curse the endless stream of commercials that obscure what’s happening on the track.

When the race is over, it’s time for the post-race wrap-up shows that continues on for at least another hour.

People that know us know better than to invite us over on race days. We already have plans for the afternoon or evening.

It’s funny how, for years, auto racing has always been considered a man’s sport.

All I have to say is “Think Again.”

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ryan Newman haters don't get it

When I really care about something, I'm all in. 

This week, I've scoured the internet, reading everything I could about #NASCAR in general and #RyanNewman in particular. 

The rub seems to have come from Newman besting Jeff Gordon by one-point at Phoenix last Sunday despite Gordon's second place finish. Newman finished 11th. But it was all he needed to advance his career and turn his season into a real game-changer. Newman's bold maneuver to move rookie Kyle Larson up the track on the last lap gave Newman the one point he needed to make him eligible for the final round of the Chase for the Championship. 

Such a move is generally lauded by NASCAR fans, as long as it is their driver that does it. But since it was Newman, who hadn't won a race all season, NASCAR old-timers were furious that he should be given a spot among the final four who will contend for the Sprint Cup Championship. 

NASCAR fans are beside themselves, especially those that favor Jeff Gordon. Incidentally, neither Larson nor Gordon have faulted Newman for doing his job, in getting beside Larson and moving him out of the way. It isn't like every driver on the circuit hasn't done the exact same thing. Newman's entire season and potentially his entire racing career was dependent on passing one car. 

The fact that Larson hit the wall made the incident look worse than it was, however, Larson wasn't 'taken out' as so many have categorized. He bounced off the wall, finished the race, and lost just two spots. It didn't alter his season one bit. For a rookie, he had a great one. 

After reading articles, listening to interviews, and checking out and adding to comments, I've come to the conclusion that people making often rude, ugly, undeserved remarks are simply mental midgets who couldn't think their way out of a paper bag. And there is no reasoning with them because they don't listen to anything but their own skewed, biased, uninformed view. It is really sad! The only thing they see is the 'win' column, yet there is so much more to a champion than crossing the finish line first.

Some have even said Newman should step aside and give his position to Jeff Gordon because Gordon is more deserving. Are they kidding? 

NASCAR loves all the controversy that has come with their newly-designed Chase for the Championship. Last week Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon, came to blows, involving other teams who ended up penalized and fined by NASCAR. The week before in an uncharacteristic move Matt Kenseth came after Keselowski in the garage area. All this means interest and that translates into dollars. To them, this is the only mark of success that matters.

Race fans that have been loyal to their sport and loyal to their favorite driver are furious that a driver who hasn't won a race all year could possibly end up a champion. They hate how this entire thing was handled. So, they are taking it all out on Newman. In reality, it is NASCAR that should be their focus. NASCAR made the rules.

NASCAR may lose them but that will be okay just as long as someone else takes their place. NASCAR doesn't care where the money comes from. New blood may be just what NASCAR thinks it needs. It would be nice to think there is a grand plan to open up the sport of stock car racing to new ideas and new interests. I suspect though, that is wishful thinking. I am more apt to think NASCAR simply bungled things. They thought they were setting up a fail-safe system where the champion would be the guy with the most points because he won the most races. They swore the Chase would be all about winning.  They didn't count on the likes of Ryan Newman. 

NASCAR felt their new Chase scenario would let the cream rise to the top. Winning and leading laps would bring bonus points, but the crux of the system was passing race cars. Generally it is thought that the winner would pass the most cars. In a perfect world, that would be the case. They couldn't count however, on circumstances that would befall each and every driver. Who could predict if a crash would take out chase contenders? So NASCAR did the best they could to tweak the points structure that would reward winning. 

The one way they could have eliminated the mess they've gotten themselves into with a non-winner competing for the trophy, would be to let those who have won races keep the points they earned previously. Even Newman was against resetting the points after each round of the Chase, despite the benefit to him and Matt Kenseth who also was winless during the 2014 season, but advanced to the top 8. Still, there may be no guarantee that only race winners would be eligible to win the trophy. 

I've observed that winning a race today is far less about the driver than it used to be. With NASCAR determining every variable about the race car, the tires, the fuel, and the rules governing every aspect of the sport, there is little drivers can do differently. So much emphasis is now placed on managing tires, pit stops, fuel mileage, etc. NASCAR is now a team sport, but unlike baseball and football, there is still that one all-important man behind the wheel. Some fans just can't wrap their heads around the fact that NASCAR is no longer the same sport as it was in the days of Junior Johnson turning his own wrenches, wheeling his own car that he could purchase at a dealer's showroom. In those days winning was everything. It reflected one man, one car, and one set of skills. He made all the decisions. He did all the work. He drove like hell and the fastest car took the checkered flag. With so many variables today, it isn't always the fastest car on the track. NASCAR is less sport and more show. Wrecks are practically figured into races. Unknowns are part of it now. And, they affect everything. Consistency has to be key. Now, winning is only part of the story. And NASCAR has implemented a points system. 

The game-changer was in 2003 when Ryan Newman won 8 races but Matt Kenseth took home the championship. Ever since then, NASCAR has been trying to tweak the system. This is the system we now have.

Every driver knew the rules at the start of the season. Every driver had the same chance to advance. The final four were the ones who earned the most points and advanced to be the best. The emphasis is no longer about winning; it is about passing cars on the race track. Presumably, the guy who passes the most cars is the winner. Not necessarily!

Newman is in his first year at Richard Childress Racing. He went to work with a new team, new crew chief, new sponsors, and changed everything, yet he was able to earn enough points, based on passing cars, to make it to the final round of the Chase. Do people think that just happened? I assure you, he worked his tail off to do it. He passed the second largest number of cars in the season, second only to Joey Logano who won five times. Tire problems, crashes, a pit road penalty, ill-handling race cars, etc. Newman overcame it all to turn what could have been an ugly day into a decent finish. And he did it consistently.

Unless you are a Newman fan and you follow his progress in this sport, you are probably completely unaware of how he has performed this season. Rarely was his name mentioned by commentators. Rarely was he interviewed. If I didn't listen to his radio communication, I wouldn't even know he was on the race track. Some of the things he has done this season, as he wheeled his car through the field, has been incredible. It is just too bad too many biased commentators would rather talk about Dale Jr. or Danica Patrick because they are popular, than to cover what is happening on the track.

For all those who are against Newman winning the championship, that's fine. Just try to at least be respectful for a guy who is just as deserving as the other three contenders and more deserving than those that didn't make the final four. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Ryan Newman to contend for Championship in NASCAR-created controversial Chase

Oh boy, #NASCAR, what a race it was at Phoenix! 

Honestly, I don't remember anything but the last lap, and of course its controversial aftermath.

I suppose if I was a Jeff Gordon fan, I too would be disappointed. Disappointed is one thing, but the vitriol against Ryan Newman has shocked me. 

CHonTrack: Ryan Newman #31Get a grip people! I've watched replays, read all the articles, and even made a few comments to set the record straight. 

For the record, Ryan Newman did not wreck Kyle Larson. No one was more disappointed at the finality of the race than Jeff Gordon., but even he agreed that Newman didn't wreck Larson.

"Well, he ran him wide. I don’t know if I’d say he wrecked him. He certainly ran him up the race track," Gordon said in a post race interview. 

What Newman did was race hard, which is his job. The video of the incident shows that Newman drifted up toward Larson's #42 in an effort to get around him. It appears as if Larson got loose, hit the wall, recovered, while Newman sped past him, gaining the one point he needed to advance to the final round in his quest for his first championship. It must be noted that Larson not only finished the race; he only lost two spots in the process. 

While the terms, "bumped, rubbed, and moved out of the way" are appropriate, it is wrong to characterize what happened as Newman wrecking the rookie Kyle Larson. 

Newman did nothing different than any other driver in the garage would have and has done. In fact, Kyle Larson did the same thing to Marcos Ambros the lap before. 

There was a championship on the line for Newman. He drove as hard as he had to to remain in contention. 

There is one thing Newman did, however, that other drivers don't normally do. Newman issued his regret for having to race that hard. With his characteristic good humor, in contrast to his appearance, sitting against a curb disheveled and exhausted, Newman justified the move as payback for Larson doing the same thing to him, costing him a $9,000 win in an Eldora dirt race. 

Winning isn't necessary

NASCAR has said it wants to reward winning. That sent mixed signals, since each round of the Chase for the Championship took away the perks for previous wins. 

Newman questioned NASCAR's move to reset the extra points for past race winners during the championship contender rounds, which indicates his open-minded fairness, since such a change would have hurt him and Matt Kenseth, who was also winless this season. 

Newman cannot be blamed for contending for the championship with no wins during the season. In fact, consider that Newman had to work even harder to gain points without a win. His consistency in making the most out of whatever hand he was dealt made the difference. The stats prove that too, as he was second overall in passing for points, behind Logano who won five races. Gordon, who was just one point behind Newman in the current standings was only sixth best in earning points. That statistic is a legitimate one, because it gauges passing other cars for position. Using that criteria, which NASCAR has done this year, winning appears much less important. 

Since the cars are so evenly matched, which is also NASCAR's doing, the only way to win is through strategy, using every advantage, such as for gas mileage, tire wear, fast pit stops, leading laps, and often times, aggressive driving. 

Chase for the Championship created drama

This year's Chase for the Championship has done what NASCAR intended it to do. It has raised the level of excitement to a fever pitch. I've been watching NASCAR since the Chase began and never has the bar been raised so high. The last three races ended in controversy over aggressive driving, though this was mild compared to the previous weeks. 

There was no potential violence between Newman and Larson. Quite the contrary in fact, as I've been told that Larson congratulated Newman on making it as a contender for the Championship.

That can't be said for the last two weeks, where Brad Keselowski's aggressive driving actually drew blood. At Charlotte two weeks ago, Matt Kenseth went after Keselowski. Last week it was Gordon that chased him down, resulting in both being bloodied about the face. NASCAR even issued fines against some of the crew members of teams that participated in the brawl.

Make no mistake, the stepped-up emotions of drivers, teams, and fans this year, is the doing of NASCAR's tweaking of the Chase for the Championship. 

UPDATE--Kyle Larson quote: 
"Coming to the finish, there were a lot of cars racing really hard. I knew the 31 was right around me, and knew he needed to gain some spots to keep from getting eliminated from the Chase. It's a little upsetting he pushed me up to the wall, but I completely understand the situation he was in, and can't fault him for being aggressive there. I think a lot of drivers out here would have done something similar if they were in that position."

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Ryan Newman's consistency should not be controversial

Ryan Newman Pit-Stop
Ryan Newman Pit-Stop
photo courtesy of Quicken Loans Racing
One of the least controversial characters in the #NASCAR garage area is Ryan Newman. So why is it that controversy follows him like hunks of bread from the hands of Hansel and Gretel?

It isn't Ryan Newman's doing. Just ask any member of the growing #NewmanNation.

The latest fluff in the media is about the fact that Newman is currently second in points in NASCAR's prestigious Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, which has just three races left. And Newman is win-less for the season.

For anyone that is aghast at the fact that Newman is ranking so high on consistency, but not in the wins column, it really doesn't matter. So what if he hasn't won a race in the 2014 season. I can say that because in so many ways, winning a race is simply a formality; the exclamation point is on all that took place in the previous 500 laps or so, depending on the race track of course. In that regard, Newman and his Richard Childress Racing team has excelled. Despite NASCAR's many tweaks of the format, and hoped for emphasis on winning, the real result comes from consistency and strategy. Newman excels at both!

Since NASCAR has fiddled with the racing rules, the cars, the tracks, and just about everything possible, stock car racing is no longer strictly in the hands of the driver. The sport has strayed far from its roots. Today, racing is probably governed by 50% driver skill, 40% team strategy, and 10% luck. Some say even those percentages should be reversed. Gone are the days when pit stops were just about turning wrenches. On race day, the pit box is littered with expensive equipment, computer programs, and technical advances far beyond what could have ever been envisioned by the Alabama gang or their compadres from the good ole days.

Racing is no longer just all about driving hard and running fast, though those things are certainly factors. NASCAR has made the cars, and teams so equal and administered so many rules, that teams have had to resort to doing the best they can with what they have. In Ryan Newman's case, that means being consistent. 

Newman and his team have mastered the delicate dance of driving skill, strategy, managing tires, fuel, speed, down force, side force, track and air temperature, monitoring the weather, and the all-important balance of the race car in all the varied conditions during a race. And they have done it consistently. That takes smarts. Newman and his team have smarts. 

The one thing that Newman hasn't employed is being overly aggressive. If he drove that way--if he was willing to cut off an opponent or wrecklessly bump people out of his way as others have done, he would have won races. How many times have spectators expected Newman to retaliate against another driver? He doesn't stoop to that level. 

Newman and his team have evaluated the game and is playing by the rules NASCAR devised. He need not make any apologies for his string of top 5's and top 10's, often times by overcoming adversity. He can be very proud of his achievements. His fans certainly are. While he may not have a room full of trophies for 2014, he doesn't need to. Despite NASCAR's desire to make winning the focus of this year's chase, they failed to make that happen. Even Newman was critical of the format that reset the points at each level of the Chase without rewarding for wins. That is what he advocated for, despite that stance potentially harming his own position. That too is laudable.

The bottom line is, Newman can win it all. He can win it all without having to compromise his driving style. He can be victorious by being who he is. I for one, certainly hope he does! 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ryan Newman may finally get noticed

I'm finally breathing again, as is all of #NewmanNation; which means it is safe to reflect on Ryan Newman's excellent performance at Talladega. 

Just after the Newman's fifth place finish and stellar performance, last weekend, NASCAR announced that Newman's car had failed its post race inspection. Apparently the height on both sides of his car, in the rear, was too low. Panic was short-lived however, as Tuesday morning NASCAR revealed that the height difference was due to damage from a crash Newman was involved in during the race, a seemingly uneventful crash by the way, that did little to slow his momentum on the track.

Newman went into the weekend in good shape; he emerged from it even better. He has still not won a race this year, but a win is certainly not out of his reach. Each week he finishes closer to the lead. He now stands third in points, as he advances to the next round of NASCAR's Chase for the Championship. 

Some of us are not surprised by this turn of events. Others never imagined that Newman would advance farther than Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhard, Jr., or Kasey Kahne. 

But consider that Newman is rarely talked about. I have often complained that Newman is the Rodney Dangerfield of NASCAR, that he gets no respect. And that has continued, although his performance this year can't be denied. 

While those that have not watched closely enough, this appears to be a brand new, Ryan Newman, one that is hungry for a win and even hungrier to win a championship. It is all that is left for him. He has already won the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500. Can a championship be far behind?

So many Newman naysayers counted him out, but he is proving them all wrong. I am delighted that people are finally getting to see the Ryan Newman I have always seen. I've always known that he is capable, skilled, strategic, smart, and likes to drive fast. 

But there is now a spotlight on him that is illuminating the Ryan Newman I have known since about 2004 when my son introduced me to NASCAR. I never got to see Ryan's amazing 2003 season where he logged eight wins and 11 poles. But, I certainly heard about it. Still, I was intrigued by him. I still am. I like his personality, his sense of humor, his love of family, and his affection for old barns, farm life, and animals of every kind. He isn't a pushover; he doesn't always say what people want to hear. He tells it like it is. He isn't afraid to express his opinion. Those are all qualities that have caused me to want to know more. So, I have read all there is to read about him. I've watched him race. I've read post race interviews. I listen to his radio traffic during races. I watch his race times and speed during the race. I try to understand how he races. 

Without that level of interest, there is little being said about Ryan. Announcers rarely talk about him. He isn't interviewed often. NASCAR isn't fond of some of the things Ryan has said, so they ignore him. Reporters, most of whom answer to NASCAR's big-whigs, go the other way when Ryan walks toward them. They either don't like what he says, or he jests over their heads. His sense of humor isn't for everyone. I happen to like it. 

NASCAR is keeping the "most popular driver" thing going, since all they ever talk about is Dale Earnhardt, Jr. That isn't the case with Ryan Newman. Just for fun, sit in front of your television set and count the number of times Earnhardt's name is mentioned and compare it to the number of times Newman's name is said. You will be amazed. Ryan Newman flies below the radar.

The truth of the matter is that Ryan isn't really doing anything any different than he ever did. The difference is his team. Now with Richard Childress Racing, Ryan joined a team that had already worked out the kinks before he got there. His driving style hasn't changed. His problem at Penske Racing was that Dodge wasn't supporting their product. Roger Penske was largely absent. When he went to Stewart/Haas Racing, everything was new. Equipment was new, personnel was new and there were always changes. 

He is finally with a team that is on the same page with him. The equipment is proven. The reputation is proven. And Luke Lambert, Newman's crew chief is also proving to be top notch. 

Since Talladega, Lambert has pulled ahead of three other crew chiefs in the contest for "problem solver of the year." He is in contention for the $100,000 MOOG Award sponsored by Federal-Mogul Motorparts, a division of Federal-Mogul Holdings Corporation.

Let's hope the good streak continues, on into Martinsville, this week, a track where Ryan can win as he did in 2012. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Drama at Charlotte

This year's #NASCAR Chase for the Championship certainly does seem to be jam-packed with drama.

Saturday's night race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which started out with a dud, certainly picked up during the night, and ended with a crescendo that has kept people talking. I wonder if those who watched Matt Kenseth do his ninja move on Brad Keselowski between the haulers even remembered the aggravation of missing the green flag.

Brad Keslowski before a race.
NASCAR driver Brad Keslowski. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Bristol Motor Speedway August 2009
NASCAR driver Matt Kenseth Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Such a pathetic start to the race 
The fact that the beginning of the race wasn't seen by the millions of viewers when and where it was supposed to be broadcast, is inexcusable.

Race fans tuned into ABC which was airing a college football game. The race coverage started just as NASCAR instituted its first competition caution more than twenty laps into the race. NASCAR brass mouth off continuously about the fans, but the fans who were missing the start of the race were furious, and rightly so. For a sport that likes to reward consistency, NASCAR needs to rethink its own playbook.

Practically speaking, how does it benefit the viewing public to start a race that millions can't see? Oh, how I miss Speed TV! Fox Sports I and ESPN puts auto racing into the pot with every other sport known to man. It was so nice to be able to tune into the Speed Channel and know it was dedicated to what NASCAR fans cared about--racing!

This is the final year for ESPN, and there will be big changes next year, so hopefully, this kind of thing won't happen again. I just wonder how many NASCAR fans have been permanently lost by an inability to even figure out when a race will be run and where it can be viewed. The times and networks are all over the field, and are subject to change. Where is the consistency in that?

Then there is Race Day which is a great setup before a race, except whoever knows when it will be on and where to watch it. I used to be a dedicated Race Day fan, but no more. It just isn't worth the aggravation. Thank goodness for the internet. has proven to be an invaluable tool for finding where the race will be broadcast. And even that can be cumbersome. There is always Twitter! Who isn't thankful for Twitter?

While on this subject of fans being able to watch the races, what about the fans who can't afford cable or satellite service, or who live in an area where those aren't available? I wonder how many of those fans have lost interest and won't return once a more reasonable schedule exists.

The ending may have made up for the pathetic beginning
The ending to Saturday's race was, at the very least, interesting. I have to wonder what made Brad Keselowski turn into some kind of mad man. I'm sure we don't know the whole story. We have seen Denny Hamlin ticked off, numerous times, but rarely does Matt Kenseth go after someone like that. And then there were the team members...Oh, I suppose this was just the boys having at it. Too bad NASCAR never really defined what that meant. If they really want to let 'the boys have at it,' why do they employ all those officials to stop them from going after one another. It isn't like they will fight to the death. But, perhaps some of these hot heads need their clocks cleaned once and for all. A couple thousand dollars in fines obviously doesn't have much of an effect.

Don't get me wrong, I don't agree with violence. Nor do I even understand the need to retaliate or react in the way we saw Saturday night. I believe in keeping a cool head.

Perhaps that is why I am a Ryan Newman fan. Ryan isn't a hot head. He uses his head for problem solving, rather than intentionally destroying a 3,000 lb. race car or swinging his fists.

Speaking of Ryan Newman, how about that consistency
There is nothing I'd like more than to see Ryan Newman win a championship. Not only is he deserving, but the reaction that NASCAR would have to such an event would be priceless.

Ryan gets so little respect as it is. Personally, I think his intellect and sense of humor is way over their heads. If he were to become champion by the rules they set up, NASCAR would have to respect him. Pundits would have to interview him. Newman would be an excellent spokesperson for the sport he loves,. He'd be a great champion.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ryan Newman position always a nail-biter

I apologize for being lax in posting lately. Truth is I have been immersed in a quilting project, see CHQuilts that has taken all my time and effort. I didn't keep me from watching racing however. I vowed to myself that I wouldn't write about racing until I finished my quilt. That just happened yesterday, so,...

Chase races

Of course, the chase to the championship has begun. I'm thrilled that my favorite driver, Ryan Newman, is hanging in there. In fact, he is advancing. He is now in 12th place after two races. He started dead last, in 16th. Leave it to Newman though to keep his fans on edge as he hovers just at the in/out line. Newman always makes it fun for us!

Ryan's performance has been stellar, especially at Chicagoland when two tire issues left him three laps down. He was able to pull it out to finish 15th, and on the lead lap. His driving was amazing! His car was bad fast!

New Hampshire was a disappointment. Newman's car was fast; Loudon is one of his favorite tracks. But after being involved in a wreckfest, not of his making, his potential to repeat his previous wins at Loudon, hit the wall. It just wasn't meant to be, apparently, though it was still a good day for him. He advanced to 12th in the points. The race itself was something to watch. What looked like a largely green-flag race fell into a series of mishaps with a series of cautions, hurting most of the chase drivers, Newman included.

Actually, he is tied with Kasey Kahne in points for 11th place, though Kahne was scored higher because he had a win during the regular season.

If Newman can hold his place or advance it, he will make it to the next round of the Chase--the Contender Round. Presently, he is within one point of A.J. Almandinger and within two points of Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth. It is really close, but I feel confident that Newman has what it takes to make the next round.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Even NASCAR's knight has chinks in his armor

English: President Barack Obama visits with 20...
Jimmie Johnson
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I'm very disappointed in NASCAR's golden boy, Jimmie Johnson!

All we have ever seen or heard from Johnson has been positive. Certainly all that is ever said about him, is glowing. But that isn't the guy we saw Sunday in Michigan when he battled with Ryan Newman on the track and his later remarks.

According to the live action view on the track Johnson appeared to go out of his way to slam into Newman, right about the rear tire. Newman said on the radio that he was concerned about a tire rub. He forged on while his team whipped out the binoculars to check it out. Thankfully, there was no smoke, but it was already too late to resume his pre-confrontational battle with Johnson.

All this occurred while the two were dueling, in the closing laps of the race, for tenth place. Johnson repeated his on-track exclamation more than once. He clearly intended to resort to whatever it took to get Newman out of his way.

Obviously Newman lost the momentum he needed to continue his charge to the front of the pack, resulting in an 11th place finish.

Jimmie's on-track behavior may be chalked up to frustration, but his off-track interview was over-the-top. It showed a total lack of character and how much he too has fallen for all the media hype about how great he is.

"Oh, it was just normal Ryan Newman stuff. Anybody who has watched this sport long enough or has been in a race car out there understands the frustration that comes along with racing Ryan," Johnson said after Ryan confronted him post-race.

Isn't the on-track action supposed to be a race, a competition? Apparently Johnson thinks he is the only one on the race track that has had obstacles to overcome. This was a particularly difficult race for Johnson, whose shifter lever broke, making it impossible to shift gears. He tried to attach vice grips after a green flag pit stop and while entering the racing surface. Had any other driver tried that, they would have been black-flagged by NASCAR, but not Johnson. His heroics didn't work, so his crew had to fix it during the next pit stop anyway. He did have to overcome a lap down condition, but so did Newman. The two drivers were comparable, running similar speeds and positions during the entire race. One difference however, is that Johnson, who is already locked into the Chase for the Championship with three wins this year and six championship rings from years past, is said to be in a slump. Newman, on the other hand, is in his first season with a new team, experiences the kind of challenges Johnson had, nearly every week. He is fighting for a chase berth and is winless this season. He is fighting hard, as he always does, yet Johnson supporters are calling Newman the bully? 

Johnson's remarks were uncalled for. No matter how frustrated he is and how much he's had to overcome, Johnson is not the only one fighting on the track. Drivers are not supposed to slow down to let Johnson pass. While it is true that many drivers have whined about how hard it is to get past Newman, but, isn't that his job?

I've watched racing long enough to know that Newman knows when his car can't compete with the speed of another. And in those times, he does let others get past him. But that wasn't the case Sunday. He was just as fast as Johnson. So for Johnson to resort to smashing into Newman's rear tire was a low blow. Had it happened just once, Johnson could have claimed that he simply got loose and drifted up the track. But, he did it numerous times.

Being a winner doesn't require character. The real mark of character comes when things aren't going so well. Newman exhibits character each and every week. He is always fair-minded. Too bad the same can't be said for Jimmie Johnson. He was certainly no golden boy on Sunday.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The emotional ride of a NASCAR fan

Following the harrowing news about Tony Stewart striking and killing fellow Sprint car driver Kevin Ward, Jr. Saturday night, I felt distracted as my husband and I settled in to watch Sunday's road course race at Watkins Glen. Then when Ryan Newman was involved in that scary crash, I lost all focus. After the lengthy red flag condition, I considered not even finishing the rest of the race. I'm so glad I did because it was positively joyous to watch A. J. Allmendinger battle for the win.

Tony Stewart is responsible for the death of a young man

No matter what the circumstances, a young, vital person, a mother's son, is dead. I can not imagine how horrifying it had to be to watch that happen. I know nothing of this young man. I don't follow the sport, but that doesn't lessen the sadness I feel for this young man's family.

While Tony Stewart may be responsible for the death of this young driver, and any official conclusion remains to be seen, I can't help but think about what Tony may be feeling. No matter what the circumstances, Tony will have to live with the knowledge that he was involved in an incident that resulted in someone's death. That is a monumental burden to carry for a lifetime. Even in the short term, Stewart has no control over his own life. The uncertainty of what may happen because of this--possible criminal or civil charges--has to be suffocating. And it could go on for months, years. Therefore, my heart goes out to him. One moment will undoubtedly, change him forever. That moment Kevin Ward got out of his race car, certainly changed everything.

Responsibility dictates that we must all be cognizant of the potential of our actions.

I don't know Tony Stewart personally, but from what I have seen and observed over years of watching, reading, and learning, I find it impossible to believe that Tony Stewart intended to harm anyone. I hate that so many people--people who don't know any more about him or the facts surrounding this incident than I do--are saying such horrible, judgmental things. It is fine to have an opinion, but only when all the facts are known.

Ryan Newman's wreck was scary

It was reported that Newman said hitting the wall paled in comparison to his being slammed by Michael McDowell. That was obviously a hard hit because it sent McDowell flying. It was so good to see Newman get out of his mangled race car and walk away on his own power.

I also enjoyed his speaking out about the barriers at the race track. Someone has to speak out about such things. No one else seems to have the chops to open their mouths. Many of the other drivers agreed with him, but not as blatantly. It was a little disingenuous for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to bring up the cost factor of creating safer barriers. Of course it would be costly, but NASCAR can certainly afford it. How many track owners receive public money as incentives to upgrade their facilities? How big is the tax break owners get as compared to the ticket holders who scrape together enough coin for a ticket or merchandise? NASCAR always preaches about safety, so perhaps they should put their money where there mouths are by leaning on track owners to make necessary improvements. I don't care if there is just one race per year Kerry Tharp, NASCAR Director of Competition. Cars can race at any track in the country. Only the best and safest should host racing events. If a track doesn't want to spend the money, go someplace else!

I wonder if Newman will be fined for speaking out, as he was not long ago, when he was critical of the safety issues at Talladega. He had a microphone shoved in his face minutes after flying through the air and landing on his roof? NASCAR wrongly criticized and penalized him for 'harming the brand.' Newman was right; NASCAR was wrong. At the same time they criticized Newman, they approved the use of an added safety feature--the Forward Roof Bar--which has been added to the roll cage that failed in Newman's crash. It has been nicknamed the Newman bar.

The best part, and perhaps only good part of the weekend's racing was when A. J. Allmendinger battled Marcos Ambros to win the first Sprint Cup race of his career. Seeing that young man with all his enthusiasm take the checkered flag and celebrate his win was the way winning a race is supposed to be. It was good, clean, exciting, and just plain exhilarating. That may have something to do with A. J. himself. He takes nothing for granted, has fought hard to get to the top, and is just plain deserving. I feel a little sad for Ambrose, since he ran such a great race, but A.J., the underdog; well, it just was a good win.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Looking forward to Newman at the Glen

Ryan Newman is running so consistently that it is almost hard to believe this is his first year with a new race team. Expectations are always high where Newman is concerned because it is common knowledge that he can get the job done. It is just a matter of time before he crosses that start-finish line before the rest.
I'm rather excited to watch Ryan Newman run through the road course at Watkins Glen International Sunday. He always does well at road courses and the team overall has been pretty consistent of late. 

Coming off a top-10 at Sonoma earlier this year, an eighth place finish at Pocono, and being fifth in the points standings, Newman is in a good position this week. With the season marching on toward the start of the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, Newman is on solid ground. The only thing better than where Newman is right now, at this stage of the season, would be to put a number in that 'win' column. I'm confident that will happen. Who knows, perhaps it will be Sunday?

From listening to him on the radio the last several races, it seems Newman has a level of comfort I haven't heard in some time. He and Luke, his crew chief seem to be on the same page during the race. So, for a first season at Richard Childress Racing, Newman is doing just great! You may not hear that from FOX or ESPN, but you'll certainly hear it here at chontrack!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Ryan Newman is NASCAR's Rodney Dangerfield

Ryan Newman #31
Ryan Newman #31 (Photo credit: CANDID1PHOTO)
 Ryan Newman gets no respect

When Ryan Newman ran his qualifying lap Saturday, who knew? Despite posting the second fastest run at the time, Newman was one of the few, if not the only driver that wasn't shown on television. 

I was watching, waiting for him, but never did get a glimpse of the red and white #31. It was merely announced that Newman placed second. I an so tired of not seeing his lap. And, this isn't the first time.

As usual, Newman's on-track performance took a back seat to other more important broadcasting priorities. There must have been a commercial or a vital interview.  ESPN is not the only network; FOX likes to ignore Newman too. I wish Newman's fans would start calling them on it. 

NASCAR broadcasters need to do a better job, to at least appear unbiased, if they ever expect to be taken seriously. A reputation in journalism, like any other profession, needs to be earned. 

Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Photo credit: kagilbert45)
Newman is smart and witty. He has an incredible sense of humor that I, for one, would like to see more of. Newman speaks his mind though, NASCAR doesn't like that. For NASCAR, it is all about control. Perhaps NASCAR should realize that attitude lacks traction with the viewing public. Perhaps it is NASCAR itself that keeps fans from filling those seats at race venues. It was shocking how many empty seats there were at Indy during the Brickyard 400.

It is somewhat ironic that ESPN should ignore Newman, since he was last year's Brickyard winner. Until Kevin Harvick qualified, Newman held the track speed record. Imagine this year's coverage, had Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won last year...

Sunday's race

While Sunday's race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway did not end quite the way I wanted--with a second consecutive victory for Ryan Newman and his #31 Quicken Loans car--Jeff Gordon deserves congratulations for a well-executed race. His fifth career win at Indy is impressive.

Newman, who ultimately finished in the top 12 fought hard to better his track position all day. With an error in his first green flag pit stop, he lost positions that were difficult to make back up. But, his perseverance will keep him eligible to make the Chase for the Championship, as of now. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

NASCAR Qualifying rules still confound me

While I admit that the new qualifying procedure is growing on me, this week's Daytona qualifying was a train wreck. 

Granted it rained. It always rains in Florida in the summertime. But, for NASCAR to arbitrarily say, that's it--we're done now seems a little heavy-handed to me. But then, that is what NASCAR does. That is why fans have a problem with NASCAR. Why is NASCAR trying to kill this sport?

Let the tweaking begin

Now that drivers have figured out the best strategy to achieve the fastest speed in qualifying, NASCAR wants to change the rules--rules it just made up. NASCAR just hates it when drivers and teams are smarter than they are. Sorry guys, but that is just how it is. Some of teams ARE really smarter than you. 

NASCAR has done everything in its power to control every aspect of racing, much to the chagrin of those who really love racing. Here we have another example. If NASCAR wasn't so bent on making everything equal for all the teams, racing might be a little more interesting and exciting. 

The irony is that NASCAR's efforts have caused teams to be more strategic rather than simply allowing them to race for a win, which is the way it should be. And now, NASCAR has to make up more rules to prevent the very thing they are responsible for creating in the first place. Sheesh!

Monday, July 7, 2014

NASCAR needs less predictability; this weekend had it

Aric Almirola
Aric Almirola (Photo credit: purduenila)
Seeing the reaction of Aric Almirola when he was credited with the win at Daytona was almost worth the wait. His excitement was contagious. As a driver for Richard Petty, Almirola's sentiment at winning on Petty's 25th anniversary of his 200th win at Daytona, was genuine.

I was a little surprised at my own positive charge of emotion when the race was called. I suppose that is because Almirola's win was unexpected. Despite the fact that NASCAR called the race when it did, there was a real feel of spontaneity in the final result. That doesn't happen often in NASCAR. I dislike the predictable; it seems that NASCAR has too heavy a hand to expect real spontaneity. 

It was also pretty cool for Kasey Kahne, who hasn't won in a while, to eek out a win at the last second in the Nationwide Race. That was pretty spontaneous as well.

Other than that, the weekend was pretty much a bust. I can only imagine how the drivers, crews, and fans in the stands felt. For me though, in the comfort of my living room, I can take away only positive feelings about the outcome of the weekend at Daytona. 

Could it have been better? Absolutely! Would I have been happier to see Ryan Newman win it? Oh yeah! But once his car was so damaged and he was multiple laps behind the leader, ending the race sooner rather than later worked for me. It is no fun to watch Ryan limping along in a wounded race car. Kudos though to the guys in the #31 team for their diligence in trying to get Ryan's car back to racing form. It just wasn't meant to be.

Monday, June 16, 2014

A day off may cure my NASCAR addiction

nascar (Photo credit: rogerblake2)
For the first time since the 2004 season, I missed a race--on purpose!

I have been too obsessed for too long. I'm starting to control my addiction. I did record the race, so when I got home I watched it. It was a totally different experience.

Normally, when I watch a race, I have a certain procedure to follow. I generally start up my aged laptop so I can listen to my favorite driver, Ryan Newman's radio traffic. Without that, it is often difficult to know anything about any driver that isn't Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Danica Patrick, Kevin Harvick, or Tony Stewart, the most popular drivers. Now and then other drivers are mentioned briefly, but it just so happens that Ryan is one of the least mentioned. That makes it really difficult to follow his racing progress, unless he is leading the race. That hasn't been an issue lately, but then he is in his first year with a new team which is still trying to iron out the bugs.

I try to watch Race Buddy, but that is pretty taxing for my old laptop. It doesn't always work. Of course I monitor the live leaderboard to fill in some of the blanks about how Ryan is doing in terms of speed, position, and potential to pass other cars. 

Since I recorded the race yesterday on the DVR (digital video recorder), my normal multi-dimensional experience was greatly reduced, which resulted in a very different viewing experience. 

The most glaring difference was that I wasn't just watching Ryan's race, as I usually do. I watched the whole race, in its entirety. I don't think that was a plus, as it was hard to follow Ryan on the track. I had to rely on the crawl line for his position. While I watched, I found I had unanswered questions. I wanted to know why his position changed so drastically from one point to another during the race, exactly what was done in pit stops, what the handling was like in his car, how his speed compared to the drivers around him. None of those things were available to me. All I really learned from announcers were predictions that Jimmy Johnson could win his first Michigan race and how great Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was doing. 

There was one good thing about my single-dimensional viewing of the race however. I was able to fast-forward through the commercials. I knew there were lots of commercials, but I rarely paid much attention to how much time is squandered by the enormous number of them. I was stunned to learn that races don't take up an entire afternoon when you take away all the network garbage. 

Since I've never actually been to a race, I never realized they weren't as long as I thought. I was shocked at how little time is actually spent on racing. 

Jayski's Silly Season Site
Jayski's Silly Season Site (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In fact, according to Jayski's Silly Season Site, 132 minutes of racing took place. That is a little over two hours. Add in the 118 commercials and the 64 companies and entities advertised, and the time actually broadcast was 187 minutes, or just over three hours. That translates into almost an hour of garbage I didn't need to see. So, on a given day, as much as one-third of the race is squandered by marketing. Isn't it enough that car bodies and driver bodies are covered in advertisements and products have their logos splashed on the walls and in the grass?

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm sick to death of everyone from politicians with their constant barrage of letters and phone calls to NASCAR and television in general vying for my limited funds. 

While Jayski's didn't have the stats for this, there is always a gushing factor--the time spent when announcers make the equivalent of goo-goo eyes over certain drivers. I was thrilled to be able to skip over that. That said, I genuinely enjoy listening to Kyle Petty, because I think he does a decent job as a broadcaster. While I don't always agree with his opinions, I think he is the closest thing to a professional that NASCAR employs. I also like Dale Jarrett and Larry McReynolds. The two of them seem to try to be relatively fair-minded in their coverage. 

I have to say, skipping my Sunday race ritual was eye-opening. I may become a little less rigid in my NASCAR obsession. I may even opt for NASCAR lite in the future.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Race Buddy rocks!

I just love Race Buddy!

And, thanks to Race Buddy, wasn't it nice to be able to watch NASCAR driver Ryan Newman, in his #31 WIX Chevrolet, drive at Pocono?

I love Race Buddy, despite the fact that my old laptop computer has a hard time keeping up. I spent most of the race fiddling with it, trying to get a picture. When I did get a picture though, it was great to watch Ryan driving through the field. He is seldom shown on Race Buddy, so it is such a thrill when he is. 

Funny though, with the live action on television, the race day scanner, and Race Buddy video, I had three different races going. I suspect the problem is at my end. I am just grateful to TNT for providing this free and excellent tool.

I have long complained about how announcers tend to ignore Ryan on the race track. With Race Buddy and the live leaderboard, I can keep track of where he is, who is around him, and what kind of progress he is making. 

As it turned out, he did a fine job, finishing seventh. It is all practice for that elusive win.

Congratulations to Dale Earnhardt, Jr. on his second win!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

NASCAR qualifying rules confound me

Being a Ryan Newman fan has taught me so much about the inner workings of NASCAR. More than not, Newman is affected by a rule here, a policy there, or an arbitrary action by the sanctioning body. More often than not, it is detrimental to him.

The latest question I have, is in regards to qualifying at Richmond. In particular, since qualifying was rained out, how did it happen that Kyle Larson earned the top starting spot for Saturday night's race. Per NASCAR's rule book, "Section 9-5 of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rule Book (in 2013, if qualifying was cancelled, the rule was to set the field by the practice speeds in the first practice)," according to Jayski's Silly Season Site. 

I wonder why that is. Wouldn't it make more sense to set the field according to the fastest speed in the final practice--the one closest to when qualifying would have taken place? That is where Ryan Newman comes in, since he drove the fastest lap in that session. When I heard that he was fastest in Happy Hour, I wrongly assumed he would be on the pole for the race. I was stunned to see he started, what 18th!

Wouldn't it make more sense for the starting position to more closely approximate actual qualifying? After all, a fast car right off the truck is a great luxury, but should that rare happenstance be rewarded over the work done by crews and drivers to perfect their times? Shouldn't the time closest to when qualifying actually take place be the time to be rewarded in case of a rainout?

Using the practice speeds in the first practice makes no sense to me. It would even make more sense to use a cumulative speed, awarding the pole to the fastest average speed. 

NASCAR has completely revamped its qualifying format, which gives teams a chance to better themselves during the course of the qualifying session. NASCAR seems to reward consistency, except in this case. Their own rule to set the running order by the first practice is simply not consistent with teams bettering themselves. I think a change is in order. What do you think?

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Ryan Newman finally interviewed by Fox Sunday during rain delay

Ryan Newman
Ryan Newman (Photo credit: purduenila)

The best part of the Texas weekend for me was the rain delay video of Ryan Newman on Fox Sports I, a rare occasion, prompted I'm sure, by the need to kill some time while the rain fell.

Rarely is Ryan interviewed. It is not uncommon for Newman to be completely ignored by race 'reporters' even when drivers before him and after him get TV time. I've seen so many instances over the years when it would be appropriate to interview Newman, but instead, he is ignored.

I can only speculate as to why that is. 

I think I get why Michael Waltrip doesn't interview Ryan. In my mind, it is a case of Ryan talking over Michael's head. I don't know if Michael is really as dumb as he lets on or if that is just an act, but clearly, Ryan is intellectually superior.

Also, the two plainly don't like one another. There have been past on-track incidents where Michael's driving abilities have cost Newman a good finish or completely ruined his day. Also, their dislike for one another is just obvious. For example, just recently when Waltrip was walking through the pit road crowd pretending to be a reporter, he happened to come up to Ryan. From a slight distance, Michael made some remark about having to go, in an effort to acknowledge but not confront Newman but rather to explain his quick exit. Newman simply smiled and told him something to the effect of, the bathrooms are that way, Michael. 

Now I'm sure Waltrip doesn't know how to take that kind of humor.

I admit that I have never met Ryan Newman; I've never even seen him in person. But, I've watched him and read about him enough to know that he isn't mean-spirited; he's just quick-witted and painfully honest. His dry sense of humor reminds me of my father who used to make me laugh over the silliest things. 

Newman is also generally much smarter than the guys asking him questions. They don't interact with him well because without meaning to, he talks over their heads. Now that I think about it, perhaps much of the viewing audience who doesn't follow Newman as closely as his fans do, probably don't get him either.

There didn't seem to be hard feelings between the two, even after what transpired after the last race of the 2013 season. Newman was on his way to winning at Richmond to cinch a spot in the Chase for the Championship when Clint Bowyer spun out in what has been alleged to be, team orders, putting Bowyer's teammate Martin Truex, Jr. into the chase instead. Bowyer and Truex drove for Michael Waltrip Racing. The incident changed the face of the Chase, NASCAR put Newman in, took Truex out, and huge fines were levied against Waltrip's entire race team. 

This interview was also epic because John Roberts, Michael and Darrell Waltrip seemed to hang on Newman's every word. He provided good information about racing conditions, the car, its behavior, and the track. It interested them. He was sharing information with them in a way that they could relate to. It was a very good interview. 

Interestingly, Newman has had a reputation, dating way back to his Penske Racing days, of not sharing information with his team mate, Rusty Wallace. Yet, Ryan shared information without reservation in this interview. He responded honestly to all the questions, without hesitation. Perhaps this will lay to rest in the minds of some of the old school NASCAR drivers-turned-analyst who have long held the wrong-headed notion that all the problems back then were of Newman's doing. 

I've always found Newman's interviews to be informative and light-hearted. Even when a microphone is stuck into his face after an emotional incident, he is thoughtful as he speaks the unvarnished truth.

I'll never forget when NASCAR fined Newman for his critical remarks about the unsafe racing at Talladega, just after his car came to rest on its hood following several barrel rolls. The momentum was broken when he landed on the front end of Kevin Harvick's racecar. Had Harvick not been there, who knows what the impact would have been, since the roll cage that was designed to protect the driver was compromised. Newman merely stated that NASCAR had to keep the cars from going airborne. Newman paid a huge fine for what NASCAR deemed dissing the brand. I lost all respect for them at that point. That was the scariest crash I'd ever seen, holding my breath until we heard Ryan was OK.

Interestingly, I attempted to post a link to this interview. But I can't seem to find it, on Fox Sports I or Fox Sports, or The only place I've found it is on Ryan Newman's facebook page, and my own of course, since I was happy to share it.

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