Newman has plans set to win All-Star race at Charlotte

Stewart-Haas Racing

RYAN NEWMAN
Scripting an All-Star Victory {{1315140

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (May 15, 2012) – In some ways, capturing the Sprint All-Star Race trophy is like winning the Oscar for Best Picture.

It takes a flawless performance from an ensemble cast (the driver and the pit crew), and it even takes a little help from the extras (the other competitors on the racetrack and their respective pit crews) to capture the victory and bring home the top prize.

It was 10 years ago Friday night that Ryan Newman and his team had an impressive performance at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, when they earned the title of NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race winners.

The year was 2002 and it was Newman, the eventual Rookie of the Year winner, and his No. 12 Penske Racing team who earned their first-ever victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series ranks, although it came in the non-points-paying All-Star Race.

On that night, Newman wasn’t even qualified in the main event at the start of the night but raced his way into the main event, which was then called The Winston, by winning the 16-lap No-Bull Sprint.

After that already amazing feat, Newman and his rookie team had nothing to lose. After all, they weren’t even supposed to be part of the show. The team strategized, Newman was able to drive his race, and he benefited when fans voted to invert the field for the final 20 laps. He took the lead with 17 laps to go and never looked back.

With that win, Newman and his team proved that a new kid on the circuit had what it took to come out on top. He became only the second rookie in series history to win the All-Star Race.

This weekend, the South Bend, Ind., native and now-Sprint Cup veteran is ready to earn his second All-Star title.

So far this season, Newman has one win, two top-five finishes and three top-10s. He currently sits 14th in points. And after disappointing finishes in the last few races, Newman & Company are looking forward to a chance to regroup at this Saturday night’s non-points-paying event.

Unlike any other race, the All-Star Race is about the fame, the glory and a cool $1 million. And with no points on the line, Newman and his crew can go off-script, using their improvisation skills to really do what it takes to earn that top prize in this unique event.

After all, as Newman says, this race is all about winning or bringing home nothing but the steering wheel.

So, for Newman and his No. 39 Tornados Chevy team for Stewart-Haas Racing, this weekend’s All-Star Race is a chance to showcase their skills and prove their performance is worthy.

And if things work out for Newman, he’ll be able to hoist the trophy and perhaps even earn the praises of one of his favorite TV personalities – Joan Rivers, most recently of Oscar Night Red Carpet fame – for his bold moves and stylish performance while on NASCAR’s version of the Red Carpet – victory lane at the Sprint All-Star Race.

RYAN NEWMAN, Driver of the No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing:

What makes the All-Star Race so different from any other race?

“When push comes to shove in the All-Star Race on Saturday night, you do what you have to do to win. This race is about the glory and the big prize. There are no points on the line so, the way I see it, you want to either win it or bring back just the steering wheel in your hands, knowing you did everything you could to be the best of the best that night.”

What is it about the All-Star Race that you like so much as a driver?

“I think one of the coolest things about the All-Star Race for us is that it’s a short race. It’s kind of like the races we all grew up racing. It’s a make your move and make it now kind of thing. It’s a unique layout, and to me that’s what makes it fun. You have the different segments and the rules, and the strategy changes each and every lap. The All-Star Race is huge in our eyes because it’s the All-Star Race, and it’s in our backyard, everybody’s backyard. It’s all about bragging rights. We’re all about beating each other at our own game at our home field, I guess you would say. It’s definitely a challenging race but it’s a lot of fun. Everyone wants to come out on top not just for the $1 million, but also for the bragging rights. ”

This weekend, so much focus is put on the pit crews of each team. There’s the pit crew competition on Thursday night and then, on Friday night, the pit crew is actually part of qualifying because it has to perform a four-tire stop. Talk about what that means.

“So much emphasis in this sport is put on the driver, but what people don’t understand is that this is truly a team sport. How well our pit crews do in the pits for any given stop can truly make or break us during the course of the race. I rely on them to get me out of the pits quickly, and they rely on me to be solid on the racetrack. I really like the format for qualifying because it shows the importance of the entire team, and it really puts our guys in the spotlight. I know it would mean a lot to them to win the pit crew challenge on Thursday, or for us to get the pole on Friday night.”

In 2002, you got your first-ever NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win in the non-points-paying All-Star Race. Talk a little bit about that All-Star win and what it meant to you.

“Honestly, until I won the Daytona 500 in 2008, the win in the All-Star Race was my greatest win, I thought, as a driver and as a team. What we did and what we achieved that night, it’s all for the glory. Obviously, there’s some money on the line, but you’re in your own backyard and you’re in everybody’s backyard. When you win on the home field and it’s the race that’s the All-Star Race, it meant a lot to me. We weren’t even expected to be in it and that’s why it was even sweeter, yet, because we had to race our way in. I mean, we raced our way into the race and got the invert and walked away with it for a while, there. It was a close finish at the end, with (Dale) Earnhardt Jr. It was just a great team victory and that’s what we’re here for as a team and as an organization – to put those events together – and it always doesn’t happen like that. In an All-Star Race, it’s that much more pride.”

What is your favorite moment at Charlotte Motor Speedway?

“My All-Star win was really my only one. I won an ARCA race there. We led every lap. And I won a Nationwide race there. That was a lot of fun. But the All-Star Race, when we raced our way into the race and then started last, made the cut, then got the invert and had a fast racecar, that was really cool because nobody expected us to even be in the race. When you race your way in then beat the best, in my opinion, that was a true All-Star moment.”

I think people would be surprised to know that you like Joan Rivers. Is that true?

“Oh yeah. I watch that show, ‘Fashion Police.’ I think she is hysterical. I sit there and just laugh. She’s bold, she’s brash. I love that she says exactly what’s on her mind, and she doesn’t hold back.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags chevrolet, newman, stewart-haas