Going for Win No. 2 in the State of Virginia
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (April 25, 2012) – There’s no quit in Ryan Newman and his No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) team.
Newman and his No. 39 U.S. Army Reserve team have proven they are a determined group that will never give up, as witnessed just three races ago when the team earned its first victory of the season at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
The South Bend, Ind., native overcame adversity to score the victory as he went a lap down to the leaders early in the race after serving a pit-road speeding penalty. Through it all, Newman and his No. 39 team refused to give up as they focused on the mission at hand and fought for every spot on the racetrack.
The team’s determination netted the ultimate in success as Newman got back on the lead lap and put himself in position to win. Once the opportunity arose, Newman – “Mr. Opportunity” – was in precisely the right place at the right time.
Newman took his first and only lead of the day on a lap-504 restart when he dove under leaders Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer, who got tangled up in turn one. Newman held off A.J. Allmendinger on the final restart on lap 514 and pulled away on the last lap for the victory.
Like U.S. Army Strong Soldiers, Newman and his team refused to give up and, in the end, completed the mission by winning the race at the Virginia short track.
As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rolls into another Virginia short track this weekend – the .75-mile Richmond (Va.) International Raceway oval – Newman & Company are looking to build on their Martinsville win and parlay it into another strong outing.
Having followed his Martinsville win with a pair of disappointing finishes of 21st at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and 20th at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, respectively, Newman is more than ready to return to short-track racing.
Richmond has been a good racetrack for the 11-year Sprint Cup veteran. Newman has one win (September 2003) and one pole, five top-five finishes and 12 top-10s in 20 starts at Richmond.
And since joining SHR in 2009, the track has been one of the best on the circuit for the No. 39 team. In six starts, Newman has earned four top-10s and he has never finished worse than 20th.
Currently sitting 10th in the championship standings, 63 points behind leader Greg Biffle, and with one win already this season, Newman and his team are determined to climb upward in the point standings with strong runs each and every week. And with his solid history at Richmond, Newman is confident his team can get back in the win column this weekend.
To find victory lane at a second Virginia short track this season, Newman and the U.S. Army Reserve team will have to exhibit some of the same qualities as our Army Strong Soldiers.
A win will take determination, patience and, most of all, teamwork in the form of quick work on pit road and impressive, smart moves on the racetrack.
Following the example set by the brave men and women of the U.S. Army he proudly represents, Newman knows he and his No. 39 SHR team are ready to answer the challenge of racing under the lights at Richmond and make it two-for-two in Virginia this season.
RYAN NEWMAN, Driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army Reserve Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What do you need out of your car at Richmond?
“The biggest thing at Richmond is it’s pretty high braking, so you have to keep a brake pedal in the car all night. But, like I’ve always said, using that brake pedal is one of the reasons I enjoy short-track racing so much. As a driver, it’s important for me to be smart on the racetrack and keep my head about me. Like our Soldiers, we have a mission to complete, and that’s to have a solid performance and, hopefully, we’ll win that race. To do that, I have to stay focused on the task at hand, make smart moves and not let my emotions get the best of me, which is always a challenge at short tracks. Track position at Richmond is typically pretty important. It’s hard to make up a lot of ground there. You can go from the back to the front, but it takes a lot of the race to do it. It’s also a place where strategy, as far as getting off-sequence on tires, has potential to make a big difference. So this is a big race where not only is it important for the driver to be at his best, but the pit crew has to be on top of it all night. We need to maintain and gain positions in the pits. It all depends on how the yellows fly, too. It takes a lot of teamwork to win a race, and that’s part of the reason there are such parallels between racing and what we do and the U.S. Army and those Soldiers, because they want to fight. They want to go back to battle and they want to win.”
How difficult is it to make passes at Richmond?
“I’d say this is not the easiest place or it’s not the hardest place at the same time as far as passing. It is great side-by-side racing at Richmond. I enjoy it. I’ve won there. We did it in 2003, staying out on old tires, and had a good car to be able to do that.” You have already won on a short track this season – at Martinsville. Why do you like short tracks so much and what makes you so good on those types of tracks?
“I like using the middle (brake) pedal. In all seriousness, I think it adds another parameter of a driver’s input when you have to modulate that third pedal. We have to go to places like Vegas and you’re using very little brake. When you are using a little bit, it’s hard to screw it up. I think our team has done a really good job with the brake package we have. I like the short tracks. I like having the character added to the program of modulating the brake. Places like Martinsville, Phoenix and Richmond, we’ve been really strong as a team. For us at Martinsville, our team didn’t give up when everything was against us. I was really proud of how we fought back from being a lap down on the racetrack, with our strategy and in the pits. Then we put ourselves in position to win the race, and we did what we needed to do. We’re looking forward to getting back to a short track this weekend.”
How important is this race in terms of looking at the Chase, since the fall Richmond race is the final race before the Chase?
“No matter what, in September, it has the potential to be a guaranteed make-or-break just because of the way the win situation works, not to mention the points. The points could be one perspective of it, but somebody breaking a tie for a win or of getting a win that puts them into the Chase could be a different perspective of it, as well. Richmond has more importance with respect to the spring race, and obviously the fall race, for that matter, now more than it ever has.”
This weekend, your car represents the U.S. Army Reserve. Can you talk about what it means to have the U.S. Army adorn the sides of the No. 39 car and to wear the U.S. Army logo on your chest?
“It’s an honor, as I’ve said, to drive the racecar. You can stand at driver introductions and see all these Soldiers who are wearing their uniform. Without these people, we couldn’t be here doing what we’re doing right now or have the opportunity to drive the racecars or, as fans, sit in the grandstands. I try to say, ‘Thank you,’ to every Soldier I see, and it doesn’t matter if they are active duty or not because I truly mean it.”