Following in the Boss Man’s Footsteps
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (March 13, 2012) –Ryan Newman freely and readily admits that he doesn’t consider Tony Stewart his boss. In fact, if you ask Newman, he’s never really had a boss in his life – well, unless you count his parents.
The always-analytical Newman can rattle off reasons why Stewart is more teammate – or even competitor – than boss in his eyes. But the fact remains that, as co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) with Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation, the largest CNC machine tool builder in the western world, three-time and reigning Sprint Cup champion Stewart is indeed the driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet’s boss.
So, what better way to keep the boss man happy than to follow in his footsteps?
One way to do that would be with a win this weekend at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway to follow Stewart’s impressively dominant victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last weekend. After watching Stewart’s epic and historic run to his third championship last season, during which the boss man claimed victory in five of the season’s final 10 races, Newman has his eyes set on keeping SHR not only in the winner’s circle, but also at the head table at season’s end by making his own run for the 2012 Sprint Cup Championship.
Of course, any designs on a championship would mean earning a berth in the Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship – and a win at the Bristol .533-mile bullring this weekend for Newman and his No. 39 Quicken Loans race team would be a step in the right direction.
Newman enters Bristol fresh off his first top-five finish this season – a fourth-place effort at Las Vegas. He currently sits 13th in points, 39 behind Sprint Cup leader Greg Biffle.
For Newman and the No. 39 team, Bristol could be the track that propels them into the top-10 in points. While there’s no doubt any race around the high-banked, concrete Bristol oval is one of survival, and a distinct “you-never-know-what-you’re-gonna-get” attitude dominates the racing there, it’s been a favorite of Newman and his Tony Gibson-led team.
The Tennessee short track has been one of the best on the circuit for Newman since joining forces with SHR in 2009. In six previous starts with the No. 39 team at Bristol, Newman has one pole position, an outside pole position, and he’s posted five top-10 finishes with his worst finish at the half-mile track being a 16th-place effort in the spring of 2010.
While Newman wants to keep Stewart – the boss – happy by keeping alive the No. 39 team’s run of top-10 finishes at Bristol, or even by earning their first win of the 2012 season, Newman’s sponsor Quicken Loans is offering the opportunity for one lucky fan to be the boss at Stewart-Haas Racing.
The national sweepstakes, which launched last weekend, will give one lucky fan the chance to be Newman’s boss for one weekend this season and win $10,000. Newman’s No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet will carry the sweepstakes Web site address – www.QLRacing.com – on the car’s TV panel.
With the momentum of a solid run at Las Vegas and a history of solid performances at Bristol on their side, Newman & Company are confident that Bristol could be the track where they put Stewart – albeit as the boss man – in victory lane, celebrating a win by the No. 39 team.
RYAN NEWMAN, Driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet Impala for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Since joining SHR, Bristol has been without a doubt one of the No. 39 team’s best racetracks. Why do you guys seem to like Bristol so much and do so well there?
“We have a good package when we come to Bristol, and I think that’s easy to see by how we have qualified and run there. It’s a track I’ve always liked, and Tony Gibson (crew chief) has a history at Bristol, too. The combination of the two of us working together at places like Bristol – his setup and my driving ability – has really proved to be pretty impressive. We haven’t gotten a win there, yet, but it’s a track where we are very confident. For me, personally, I like the short tracks because I like using the middle pedal (brake). 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 Las Vegas and you’re using very little brake. When you are using a little bit, it’s hard to screw 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. At places like Bristol, Martinsville, Phoenix and Richmond, we’ve been really strong as a team.”
What do you like so much about Bristol?
“It’s just a great racetrack and a great short track. I’ve always liked the banked racetracks, in general, over the flatter racetracks. So, I guess in some ways, you could say I’m more comfortable at Bristol. I think Bristol has always been one of those short tracks that everybody loves. And, obviously, that’s changed with the different surface and the way they’ve changed it a little bit. But, ultimately, it’s still a great short track. I really love the banking and I love the fact it’s concrete and doesn’t seem like it changes a whole lot. Once you get a car right, it’s typically right for 500 laps, which is difficult to get on some of the racetracks. Honestly, there’s just no place like Bristol. I’ve told people before that Bristol is like a baby superspeedway. If something happens in front of you, it may not be your fault, but you can get caught up in somebody else’s wreck in the blink of an eye. You have to really be on your toes at Bristol. Everything happens so fast there. You don’t have time to think or blink. To me, the racing is at an all-time high at Bristol compared to the way it used to be. We can race side-by-side and actually gain spots without having to wreck someone.”
You are pretty adamant that the racing is better than it has ever been at Bristol. Why?
“I like the racing better now than it was before. The track to me, before, was more demanding. Now, it’s smoother and there’s more maneuverability. If you miss your line just a little bit, you wash up the racetrack and you come down the hill and you come back off the corner where, before, if you missed your line a little bit, you were going to get freight-trained maybe 10 or 15 spots back. I think the racing from a driver’s perspective is much better than it used to be with the old configuration. I think one of the best races we ever had there was when it was brand new – that combination of track and tire –we ran three-wide in the Nationwide race the last 20 or 30 laps and it was awesome. It was like, ‘Holy cow, what is going to happen next?’ Each lap was different. I like it the way it is.”
You earned the name “Rocketman” at Bristol because of how quick of a lap you turned in qualifying back in 2003. Why is it so important to qualify well at Bristol?
“It’s huge. When you start up front, your emotions are pretty calm because you’ve got a lot of things going your way. You’re starting in a good position, you’ve got good pit selection and all those things. And it’s really pretty cool going into turn one on that first lap.”
What does it take to win at Bristol?
“First thing that comes to mind is patience because it can be a track that really challenges your mentality. And, obviously, you have to have a good car, and good pit stops and the things we talk about every week, but here more so than most racetracks. It’s that mental stamina of controlling your emotions and controlling the racecar according to your emotions and making the best of all the situations you are in. Bristol is different every time you come here. It can go a lot of green-flag runs and a lot of single-file racing, or it can be crazy and it can get randomly crazier.”
So, what do you mean when you say you don’t consider Tony Stewart your boss?
“I always laugh when I get the question, ‘How is it to have Tony Stewart as your boss?’ That’s because I don’t consider Tony my boss. I know he’s my car owner and his name is on the sign on the shop, but I don’t necessarily consider him to be my boss. I consider him to be a teammate and a friend, first. It’s an honor to drive for Tony and to be part of his team. I know how much last week’s win at Las Vegas meant to him. It was an awesome day for Stewart-Haas for us to get a fourth-place finish in the Quicken Loans Chevy, too. Hopefully, we can keep that up with another pair of top-fives this weekend at Bristol.”
Your sponsor Quicken Loans is running a sweepstakes in which one fan has a chance to be your boss. What can they expect?
“It’s a pretty cool sweepstakes in which one fan can have the chance to be my boss during a race weekend later this season. That’s what the ‘QLRacing.com’ is on the TV panel of the No. 39 this weekend. I’m sure it would be a pretty cool deal for a race fan to win – come to the race shop, be part of the team at a racetrack one weekend and even win $10,000. We hope a lot of fans go to the Web site and register for a chance to win the sweepstakes. I don’t really know how it will be to be my boss, but I think whoever wins will have a lot of fun with our team.”