Not only did Ryan Newman earn his first win of the 2013 season from the pole Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in his native Indiana, it also came at a most critical time for the driver of the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR).
Newman heads to Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, the site of Sunday’s GoBowling.com 400 Sprint Cup race 20 points behind 12th-place Martin Truex Jr., who also has scored a win this season.
While the points deficit is one that can be overcome by consistent finishes in the next six races, it can be erased completely by scoring a second win Sunday at the “Tricky Triangle” and vaulting Newman to the first wild-card berth.
Over the years, the triangular layout of Pocono has proven to be complicated and vexing to many drivers, but that has not been the case for Newman. In fact, the demanding dynamic and the unique shape of Pocono have made the famed triangle a favorite of the South Bend, Ind., native. And his history at the 2.5-mile track isn’t too shabby, either.
In 23 Sprint Cup starts at Pocono, Newman has finished outside the top-15 just five times. He has two poles, one win, eight top-five finishes and 11 top-10s.
Historically speaking, drivers who experience success at Indianapolis are likely to follow that up with a strong run at Pocono. Given some of the similarities between the facilities, it’s easy to understand how Newman has to be considered a favorite heading into this weekend’s race. And considering he will be behind the wheel of Chassis No. 39-733, the same Chevrolet SS he drove to victory lane at Indy, his odds would seem to be all the better.
So, Newman and his team led by crew chief Matt Borland head to Pocono with visions of repeating last weekend’s successes. They know what a second win would mean in their bid to make the Chase.
And with Haas Automation – the world’s largest CNC machine tool builder in the Western world – behind him and on his racecar’s hood at Pocono, Newman knows he has the “tools” to put his No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet in victory lane for the second consecutive week.
RYAN NEWMAN, Driver of the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
It seems as if drivers either love or hate Pocono Raceway because it is so difficult. What are your thoughts on the “Tricky Triangle?” “It’s one of my favorite racetracks just because it is so difficult. It’s really fun to drive. I like it because it’s challenging. Each corner is different – different radius, different banking, different bumps. Each straightaway is a different length. It just seems like it’s a driver’s racetrack and a crew chief’s racetrack because he has to get the car to the driver’s liking in all three corners.
It’s all about matching up the combination of how the crew chief sets up the car relative to how the driver drives the racecar to make a happy package and have a shot at victory. It’s fun to have unique situations and unique racetracks. We look forward to going to Pocono each and every time.”
Based on how well you ran at Pocono back in June, and coming off your win at Indianapolis, winning two races in a row might not be out of the question, is it?“Well, it’s not out of the question. I’d say there’s a better chance than if we were heading to Sonoma this week. But, I always look forward to Pocono. It’s a track I’ve always enjoyed racing at. Not only that, I’m hoping to get a little bit of down time after this hectic week we’ve had to do a little fishing up there.”
Pocono is a one-of-a-kind race track. Talk a little bit about what makes this track so unique. “It’s like I said, the combination of driver, crew chief and a good-handling racecar are more important at Pocono than anywhere else because of the asymmetry. The three different corners, different banking and different straightaway lengths, if you’re shifting or not shifting, there are so many variables.
There’s a lot of communication that has to be done at Pocono. I like the different corners. That’s where you can make or lose a lot of time. Pocono is very unique in the sense that there’s no perfect setup. You have to give up a little in one corner to be good in the others.”
The No. 39 team is bringing the Brickyard 400-winning racecar to Pocono this weekend, is that correct? “Yes, we are. It’s actually the same racecar we had at the first Pocono race that we finished fifth with. We had planned on turning it around and bringing it. We had no idea at that point it would take until Tuesday.
What I don’t think a lot of people know is, with the NASCAR inspection process, the winning racecar is taken from the track back to the NASCAR R&D center, where they go over absolutely everything. Sometime around lunchtime Tuesday, the team then gets the car back.
From that point, we’ll peel the wrap, re-wrap it with the Haas Automation colors, and begin the prep work for Pocono. The guys will then load it on the truck and it’ll head to the track for this weekend’s race.”