KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – When Ryan Newman hits the track at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, his Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS will sport a different look as the nation’s largest online retail mortgage lender will feature a National Parent-Teacher Association (PTA)-inspired paint scheme.
In addition to carrying the PTA colors this weekend, Newman will make a midweek visit to Detroit Public Schools’ Burton International Academy, where he will speak with students about the importance of staying in school and how education played an important role on his path to becoming a successful racecar driver.
Following the visit, it’s back to work for Newman, whose 14th-place finish at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International Sunday elevated him to the second wild-card spot for this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship with four races remaining before the Chase begins Sept. 15 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.
Only the top-10 in points are locked into the 12-driver, 10-race Chase. Positions 11 and 12 are wild cards, awarded to the two drivers between 11th and 20th in points who have the most wins. In the event multiple drivers have the same number of wins, a driver’s point standing serves as the tiebreaker.
Kasey Kahne holds the 11th-place wild-card spot thanks to his two victories this season, the most of any driver outside the top-10. Newman assumed the 12th-place wild-card spot by virtue of his July 28 victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, combined with his 14th position in the point standings, which is higher than Tony Stewart, his fellow single-race winner in the top-20 in points.
Stewart, Newman’s teammate and car owner, will miss his second consecutive race this weekend due to an injury sustained in a Sprint car accident Aug. 5 at Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa.
Considering both the top-10 in points and the wild-card scenario seem to be in a constant state of flux, keeping the second wild-card spot in his clutches will be no easy task for Newman and the No. 39 team.
Newman would greatly help his cause if he were able capture at least one more win. Luckily, the South Bend, Ind., native is no stranger to victory lane at Michigan International Speedway.
Newman has two Sprint Cup wins at Michigan on his resume, which came in successive visits to the moderately banked 2-mile oval in August 2003 and June 2004. In 2003, Newman started on the outside pole and led 32 laps en route to the win.
In 2004, he started fourth and led 22 laps on his way to taking the checkered flag. Augmenting those triumphs is a pole in June 2005, and five top-five finishes and seven top-10s in 24 career Sprint Cup starts.
Newman and his Matt Borland-led team have certainly been ones to watch when it comes to the larger speedways on the circuit of late. Given some of the similarities between Michigan, Indianapolis and Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, it’s easy to understand how Newman has to be considered a favorite heading into Sunday’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 and to a fourth-place finish at Pocono earlier this month, his odds would seem to be all the better this weekend.
Another strong finish would give Newman and his fans something to cheer. A top-five at Michigan would go a long way toward solidifying Newman’s presence in the 2013 Chase field, and it would mean five more mortgages paid for a month. Thanks to Quicken Loans’ season-long “Bring It Home” promotion, fans who have already registered will want Newman to continue that trend.
Those who have not simply need to visit www.qlracing.com to register. All are encouraged to increase their chances of winning a month-long vacation from their mortgage by entering weekly. Participants also can win additional entries by inviting their friends and family to participate.
Ryan Newman, Driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans/Smurfs 2 Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Does being in the backyard of not only Quicken Loans but Chevrolet, as well, add any pressure to your weekend? “No. I wouldn’t say it’s adding any additional pressure. With the exception of the Toyota teams, everyone is in his or her manufacturer’s backyard. From the Quicken Loans standpoint, we try to win every race, no matter if it’s at Michigan or not. It would mean a lot to win a race for them in their backyard, but I can’t say I feel any additional pressure. That pressure is constantly there.”
Do you feel like you’re coming home when you come to Michigan? What feelings are conjured up when you come to Michigan? “My very first Cup crew chief was Matt Borland, and he was from Haslett, Mich. So his slogan whenever we came to Michigan was, ‘It’s God’s country,’ and that’s because he’s from Michigan. I spent a lot of time in Michigan at my dad’s shop in Niles. So it is like coming home for me.
Before there was Chicagoland Speedway, and before there was the Brickyard, to me, Michigan was the Cup track. It was the place we called home. My grandparents had a cottage in southern Michigan. In Indiana, we lived literally a mile from the Michigan state line. So we spent a lot of time in Michigan, and it is really like coming home. The Irish Hills are absolutely beautiful. I really enjoy the area, and it’s much the same to me as it is in Pocono because of its outdoor ‘rusticness.’”
Talk about heading to Michigan this weekend holding one of the two wild cards for the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup. “We’ve got four weeks before the Chase field is set, and we’re sitting in a wild-card position. That being said, I’m really looking forward to heading to Michigan this weekend. We were pretty good there in June.
We had a flat tire toward the end of the race that left us finishing farther back than we should have, but I feel like heading back up there with the same racecar we won with at Indianapolis and finished fourth with at Pocono, we can gain some more points and really secure our place in the Chase field.”