RYAN NEWMAN There's No Quit in This Team KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (March 23, 2010) -- Ryan Newman and the No. 39 Haas Automation team have been here before. When things go wrong, as they sometimes will, When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,...
There's No Quit in This Team
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (March 23, 2010) -- Ryan Newman and the No. 39 Haas Automation team have been here before.
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will, When the road you're trudging seems all uphill, When the funds are low and the debts are high, And you want to smile, but you have to sigh, When care is pressing you down a bit Rest if you must, but don't you quit.
In fact, last March, when the team rolled into Martinsville (Va.) Speedway for the Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500, the storyline was oddly similar to the one facing the team this season.
In its inaugural season, the No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) team stared adversity in the face through the season's first four races. It was bitten by bad luck at almost every turn. The one bright spot was a seventh-place finish at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
Despite the top-10 finish at the east Tennessee short track, Newman sat 27th in points when he entered the sixth race of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at the paperclip-shaped oval in southern Virginia.
Life is queer with its twists and its turns, As every one of us sometimes learns, And many a failure turns about When they might have won, had they stuck it out. Don't give up though the pace seems slow, You may succeed with another blow.
Fast-forward to the 2010 season and this weekend as Newman heads to Martinsville listed 26th in the Sprint Cup Series points. So far, this season has paralleled what transpired last year for the No. 39 team in the first five races. Newman even flirted with scoring his first top-10 last weekend at Bristol, but a late-race pit road miscue dropped him back in the field and he had to rally for a 16th-place finish.
Despite the comparisons to last year, one thing is different -- Newman & Company has faced all this before, and the driver and team know how to band together as a team and conquer any adversity. The lesson they learned last year was to never give up -- "Don't Quit" -- as the anonymously written poem says.
It's a lesson that resonates with Newman, crew chief Tony Gibson and the entire No. 39 team. In fact, they don the verses of the poem on the back of a black T-shirt that crew members wear underneath their crew shirts and uniforms each week at the racetrack.
Often the goal is nearer than, It seems to a faint and faltering man, Often the struggler has given up When he might have captured the victor's cup; And he learned too late when the night came down, How close he was to the golden crown.
This is a team that knows how to beat the odds and prevail. Last year, the No. 39 finished sixth at the March Martinsville race. With the top-10 finish, it jumped to 18th in points. That finish was followed by six more top-10 finishes over the next nine races, including five finishes in the top-five.
By June, Newman had catapulted to fourth in the points and was a contender for the win nearly every week. The team that faltered early in 2009 soared into a spot in the Chase for the Championship and eventually finished ninth in the season-ending point standings.
Perhaps the similarities to last season will continue for Newman and his team this weekend at Martinsville. If so, they will score a top-10 finish -- their first of the 2010 season -- which will be followed by a string of solid efforts that will move the No. 39 team back toward the top of the standings.
Last year, the No. 39 team proved itself time and again. It proved its short track prowess by finishing in the top-10 in each of the six races at tracks less than a mile in length, including sixth- and seventh-place efforts at Martinsville. But more importantly, it proved its character and its heart by banding together and believing in one another.
This team doesn't have quit in it.
Success is failure turned inside out The silver tint of the clouds of doubt And you never can tell how close you are, It may be near when it seems so far; So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit, It's when things seem worst that you must not quit!
RYAN NEWMAN, Driver of the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet Impala for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What are your thoughts on NASCAR moving to the spoiler since it will make its debut this weekend at Martinsville?
"I think it's something that the fans wanted from a cosmetic standpoint. I think NASCAR's grown so much in the last 50 years with that spoiler on the back of the car, so I think that's part of it. I also feel the safety factor of the wing versus the spoiler is important, as well. I think that wing, as it goes forward, it creates downforce. But when it gets turned around, as it goes backwards, it creates a percentage of lift. That's what we saw with (Brad) Keselowski's car at Atlanta and my car at Talladega last year. I think it's a good thing for multiple reasons.
"We've tested the spoiler twice, now -- at Talladega last week and at Charlotte this week. After the test, I think the fans will see more racing, even on the straightaways, if that makes sense. You'll see more side-by-side, back and forth, nose-to-tail, with the competitors down the straightaways, which I think will make places like Michigan and California, some of the tracks that are bigger and notorious for being a little boring through the middle of the race, now more exciting throughout the entire race.
"We haven't tested it at a short track. I know that we have had our short-track car in the wind tunnel, looking at what effects the spoiler might have on the car, so we're ready. I'm looking forward to the spoiler's debut this weekend."
The short tracks, particularly the tracks under one mile, were where you and the No. 39 team enjoyed a lot of success last season. In fact, you never finished outside of the top-10 in any of the six races at Martinsville, Bristol and Phoenix. To what do you attribute your success at the short tracks?
"I enjoy the short tracks. It's a little bit of extra driver activity when you have to push the brake pedal. The more the drivers are involved, the more I think you get to race and, from that standpoint, I think it's more fun. Tony Gibson has some great setups with our short track program at places like Martinsville, Bristol, Phoenix, Loudon and Richmond. I enjoy them, he enjoys them and we just go out there and have some fun.
"I definitely look forward to going back to Martinsville. I've always said that, for me and for whatever reason at short tracks, the driver has a little more of an impact on the end result then some of the bigger racetracks, and I like that. I like that part of it and I think Clay (Campbell, track owner) and everybody has done a great job with this speedway to accommodate everybody and make it a nicer racetrack. Each time you come back, it seems to be a little nicer.
"Last year, Martinsville was really a good track for us. We have some good notes from both races there, so it's nice to come back to these racetracks where we ran good last year and apply the things that we've learned since then, where we made our gains and did our homework."
Did you feel like the spring race last year was a turning point for your team?
"That was a statement I made to Bobby Hutchens back in October, when we were at Martinsville the second time around. This was the place that, to me, was a turning point for not just the No. 39 team, but for our entire organization. We got both cars good finishing positions -- Tony finished third, we finished sixth -- and we showed everybody, for the first time, what both cars were capable of. Whether it was Martinsville or Charlotte or any place else, it doesn't really matter. It awards just as many points there as it does at any other racetrack. This was just where we made a statement. I'm hoping we can make a statement with our Haas Automation Chevy again this weekend."
TONY GIBSON, Crew Chief of the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet Impala for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Will having the spoiler on the back of the car make a difference at Martinsville?
"We had our short-track car in the tunnel with that spoiler configuration on it because it does make a difference. They way I look at it, if that thing is rolling over 60 mph, it makes a difference. I don't think you can go there thinking everything will be fine and not work on your balance shift for Martinsville because it will make a difference. It may be real small compared to Atlanta or Charlotte, but it is going to make a difference. I think you need to work on it. You need to be in the tunnel figuring out what it's doing with your short-track package, just like you would in your mile-and-a-half stuff."
Last year, the short tracks were really this team's forte. Why do you think that was the case?
"We didn't get the finish I really thought we deserved last weekend at Bristol. We actually put Ryan in a hole there at the end of the race with a lug nut problem on a pit stop and he didn't have enough time to get back in the top-10, which is where we had been running before that pit stop. So I was disappointed with that because I know we have a really strong short track program and I know we were really able to make some big gains last year at the short tracks. Hopefully, we'll be able to get that first top-10 of the year, which we need this weekend at Martinsville. We were really strong at Martinsville last year -- especially the second race, when we qualified on the pole and finished seventh. I love short tracks. Ryan loves the short tracks. He likes Bristol, Martinsville, Darlington, Richmond, Phoenix-type of racetracks, and those are tracks I like better, too. I don't know why. I like racing everywhere but, for some reason for me, my setups seem to work better at the short tracks. I guess it just fits both our styles a little bit better than maybe the mile-and-a-half stuff. I think we're pretty confident heading into Martinsville that we have the setup we need for a good weekend. We just need a little luck."
One of the qualities of this team that you praised all of last season, and that you have talked about this year, already, is its attitude. What is it about this team that you are so proud of?
"There's no quit in this team, and that's something I couldn't be more proud of and I can't praise the guys for enough. We have fought through adversity and bad luck, and we've really had just about everything thrown at us that could be over the past year we have been together at SHR, and these guys don't quit. It's really a testament to how strong they are as a team. I know they get frustrated. We all do. But they take everything in stride and they put their heads down and they work. They believe in themselves. They believe in the driver. They believe in this team. And they aren't going to give up, no matter what. We haven't had the start to the season that we wanted, by any means, but we have seen that our racecars are better and faster. The results will come and, when they do, I think we will run off a string of finishes like we did last year. We just need a little luck and, hopefully, Martinsville will be the place where we can turn things around, just like we did last season."