Newman racing for a road course win and a cause at Sonoma

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Stewart-Haas Racing

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (June 19, 2012) – Ryan Newman has won 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in his career.

Ryan Newman, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Ryan Newman, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

Those 16 victories have come at 11 different racetracks. The 11-year Sprint Cup veteran has won at superspeedways and short tracks. He’s celebrated in victory lane at the high-banked ovals and flat tracks.

His wins have come on tracks that are .526-mile, .75-mile, 1 mile, 1.5 miles, 2 miles and 2.5 miles in length.

But there’s one type of track that’s missing on his resume of Sprint Cup victories. Newman has never taken the checkered flag at a road course in the Sprint Cup Series.

And the South Bend, Ind., native would like to change that stat this weekend as he heads to Sonoma, Calif., for the first of two road-course races during the 2012 season.

Newman and his team are looking forward to the 1.99-mile, 11-turn road circuit located in California’s Wine Country.

In 10 starts at Sonoma, Newman has two top-five and five top-10 finishes. He has completed all 1,105 laps contested there since his rookie campaign in 2002, and he even scored a runner-up finish in 2006.

While Newman is focused on getting that elusive road-course victory, he will be racing with another purpose in mind this weekend – helping raise awareness and money for research for the Children’s Tumor Foundation, whose mission is to bring attention to Neurofibromatosis (NUro-FIbro-muh-TOE-sis), or NF, and the need to find a cure for this disorder. NF affects one in 3,000 children.

At Sonoma, Newman will pilot the No. 39 Quicken Loans/Children’s Tumor Foundation Chevrolet in hopes of raising money through donations to www.fuelthecure.org for the Children’s Tumor Foundation.

Newman’s sponsor, Quicken Loans, has a particularly close tie to the Children’s Tumor Foundation as Nick Gilbert, the 15-year-old son of company chairman and founder Dan Gilbert, has NF and is the national ambassador for the charity.

With 10 races to go to the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, Newman sits 13th in points, 138 out of first place. As a team fighting for a spot in this season’s Chase, Newman & Company hope to not only improve on their recent finishes at the Sonoma road course, but also contend for the win.

But while winning on a road course is an important item to check off the to-do list for Newman and the Quicken Loans team, nothing is more important to them than scoring a big win for children afflicted with NF, and raise awareness and funds for the foundation.

RYAN NEWMAN, Driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans/Children’s Tumor Foundation Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing:

You have 16 wins in the Sprint Cup Series at 11 different racetracks. The only type of track you have not won on to date in the Sprint Cup Series is a road course. What does that say about your driving ability?

“The fact is I enjoy most all racetracks. There are tracks I prefer over others, but there are no tracks I truly dislike. It’s not like I say I hate going to this racetrack this weekend. So I think that helps in giving me an opportunity to be successful at most, if not all, of them. Just from a driving standpoint, I always said one of my heroes was A.J. Foyt. The modern-day A.J. Foyt is a guy who can drive anything, anywhere, any time. So, hopefully, I can create enough stats and increase the 11 of 16 into like 20 of 40, or something like that. We’ll keep working on it. I like all kinds of different racetracks. I haven’t won on the road course, yet, in the Cup Series, but it’s something I’d love to do this year.

“The one good thing is it just goes to show you, when it comes to my stats, I’m a contender at a lot of racetracks. I think the best I’ve ever run in the championship is sixth, but that stat just goes to show if we get the right situation and package together for the last 10 (Chase races), with the difference and versatility in the racetracks, we should be in good shape. We just have to keep our nose to the grindstone.”

What do you think about road-course racing?

“I like road courses. They are difficult to pass on. It seems like there are only a couple of passing zones. I’ve always said the more corners there are without passing zones, the more opportunities there are to fall behind the guy who’s in front of the guy who’s in front of you. Road courses are unique in their own right. I wish we had a third one because I think they are fun. I enjoy hustling the racecar around the track, and Sonoma’s a good road course. Personally, I enjoy Watkins Glen a bit more, but I enjoy them both and I look forward to racing out there. It’s a big track-position race, and fuel mileage has become a big part of the racing there. But it’s the same for everybody. In road-course racing, the driver, in my mind, can make up more than he can at an oval just being able to hustle a car. You have the added mannerism, I guess you could say, of braking. When you brake at short tracks, it’s not the same as when you brake and downshift. So, you have to be a smooth downshifter, you have to be a good braker. Obviously, you have to turn right. There are extra characteristics, I guess, that you have to include at road courses that you don’t have to include at ovals. That separates the men from the boys, typically.”

Do you approach a road-course race differently than other races on the circuit? How is a road-course race different for the driver?

“Not really. Once we get there, we attack it and do our thing like we do any other race weekend. Road-course racing is physically demanding, and mentally, as well. It’s really a lot of fun to hustle the car around the racetrack. It’s definitely challenging, just doing what you can to save fuel on a road course, which is one of the hardest things you can ever do inside a racecar, in my opinion. It’s a big track-position game and, if you qualify well, you have a chance to race well. If you don’t, your challenge will be to make a bunch of passes and race hard all day.”

We are 10 races away from the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. How do you assess your season so far?

“We’ve had an up-and-down season. Obviously, Martinsville was awesome for us but, since then, we haven’t been that strong. We need to be a little bit better. I think we’ll get things turned around. We’re still in a championship-contending position. We still have great opportunities with another win, and we still have plenty of time to move up in the points and be in the top-10. We just have to do a little bit better of a job.”

Talk about what your sponsor is doing this weekend, trying to race money for the Children’s Tumor Foundation?

“It’s something that’s very personal to the folks at Quicken Loans because Dan Gilbert’s (the owner of the company) son has Neurofibromatosis (NF). In fact, one in every 3,000 children has NF, and that’s a lot. As a father – with both Brooklyn and another on the way – it really makes you stop and think about how precious health is and how, even with all the advances in medicine, things like NF are still out there. So, research is needed, and I am proud Quicken Loans is using my racecar to help raise money for the charity. Hopefully, a lot of fans will take the chance to go to www.fuelthecure.org and make a donation. It may sound cliché, but every little bit helps.”

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