It Takes ‘Strength Like None Other’ To Tame ‘Monster Mile’
Ryan Newman likens the strength it takes to tame the concrete mile oval commonly referred to as the “Monster Mile” to the same strength our Soldiers exhibit in their everyday duties serving our Nation. U.S. Army Strong Soldiers possess a physical, mental and emotional strength like none other.
In Newman’s eyes, the high-banked Dover oval is one of the most physically demanding racetracks on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit. Because it is so physically demanding, it is imperative for drivers to be in shape both physically and mentally, and on top of their game in every respect, just like our Army Strong Soldiers, who are the strength of our Nation.
Newman knows Dover is a tough track. It can wear a driver down both physically and mentally, so it’s important to be emotionally prepared for all of its many challenges.
And so, the always analytical engineering graduate from Purdue University understands his U.S. Army race team must reflect those same qualities and exemplify Army Strong characteristics if it is to achieve its goal of winning Sunday’s AAA 400 Sprint Cup race.
The driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) is accustomed to staring down the “Monster Mile,” taking a stronghold of his races there and snatching victory from his 42 other Sprint Cup Series competitors, refusing to accept defeat every lap of the way.
Newman has three victories in Sprint Cup Series competition at Dover, boasting an average finish of 11.7 there. Only Richmond (Va.) International Raceway weighs in better for Newman – ever so slightly – with an average finish of 11.6.
In 21 starts at Dover, Newman has four poles (June 2003, 2006 and 2007, September 2005), three wins (June and September 2003, September 2004), six top-five finishes and 11 top-10s. Newman also has a 2005 NASCAR Nationwide Series win at the track.
Newman’s September 2004 win at Dover was one of his most dominant performances in his 11-year Sprint Cup career.
He qualified on the outside pole for the 400-lap race but, by the end of lap one, he was shown as the leader and he showed no mercy to his other Sprint Cup competitors, leading 325 of 400 laps. In fact, Newman built a commanding eight-second lead en route to the win and claimed the first-ever “Monster Trophy” given out by track officials.
With his current No. 39 SHR Chevy team, Newman has five top-15 finishes at Dover in seven starts.
Despite failing to make this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Newman and his team have been on a roll in recent weeks. In the last 11 races, Newman has finished 11th or better nine times. Understandably, Newman & Company are eager to continue building on that momentum and make a run for 13th place in the season-ending points – the best position achievable by a non-Chase driver – with eight races left on the schedule.
To complete that mission, it will be imperative for the U.S. Army driver to rely on the lessons he has learned from the many Soldiers he has met over the past four seasons, and the ones he will meet this weekend at Dover. He will tackle the “Monster Mile” with tenacity and will exhibit that strength like none other, showing what it means to be Army Strong. In doing so, Newman and his team are focused on victory to honor the more than 1 million Soldiers who protect our freedoms and who Newman & Company so proudly represent.
RYAN NEWMAN, Driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing:
You’ve talked about how your team has to showcase what it means to be “Army Strong” when you’re at Dover. What exactly do you mean when you say that and how tough is this track? “It’s definitely pretty tough, physically. It’s not as physical as the road courses – I think they are the most physically demanding. But, with the banking and 400 laps of racing to do, you’re just constantly maneuvering the racecar. You get just a short distance on the straightaways to take a quick breath and get ready to go back at it in the next corner. We talk all the time about what it takes to be ‘Army Strong,’ and it’s mental, emotional and physical. Because of that, the driver relies a great deal on the teamwork and the technology it takes to be at our best. Each Soldier on our team, so to speak, is vital to the success of the mission at Dover. To me, this is one of the most physical racetracks we go to. Mentally, because it’s so physically tough, you have to stay in shape and stay on top of things. When you hit, you hit hard there, so, emotionally, you have to be ready for a lot of things. I’ve always enjoyed it. I’ve always enjoyed the speed, banking and everything else there.”
This week, we head to Dover, which you’ve said is another one of your favorite tracks. What is it that you like about Dover? “At Dover, I like the banking. I like the elevation changes. The concrete provides a different type of racing for us because the track doesn’t change a whole lot. Once you get your car right, you can keep it right for the rest of the race. And for me, for whatever reason, I’ve always adapted well to racing on concrete. The characteristics of the track make it both demanding and fun. It’s really unique how you drop off into the corners and then climb up the hills onto the straightaways. At Dover, the entry into the corners is the toughest part. If you don’t get a good entry, you’re not going to have a good middle or a good exit. You have narrow straightaways and then the track opens a lot in the corners, so there’s a good bit of give-and-take. To me as a driver, it’s just a track that’s a lot of fun. It’s a challenge. If you don’t like a challenge, you don’t like Dover. I really look forward to racing there. It’s fast, it’s demanding. I like the banked racetracks, and it’s one of those.”
Talk about your team’s recent performances – you have eight top-10 finishes in the last 11 races – and your goals for the rest of the season. “We’ve definitely been on a good run, recently. We’ve shown how strong our team is and how good we’re capable of being. Unfortunately, it was a little too late for us to make the Chase. It kind of reminds me of the 2010 season when we didn’t make the Chase, but we rattled off quite a few top-10 finishes in the final 10 races. It’s disheartening and disappointing not to be in the Chase, but although we don’t have a shot at the championship, we still have a lot of goals. And those goals are to go out there and win races. We have a responsibility to our sponsors to go out there every week and try to win, and that’s what we’re doing. We have eight races left, and we still want to win one or two more before the end of the season. And we want to do everything we can to finish 13th in points at the end of the season. That’s our mission, and just like our U.S. Army Soldiers, we will not accept defeat and we refuse to give up. And we’re doing well right now. Obviously, we’ve made big strides and you can see that in our finishes. It would be great to get this U.S. Army Chevrolet into victory lane this weekend at Dover.”
Source: Stewart-Haas Racing