KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (Oct. 29, 2013) – Outback Steakhouse recently launched a new advertising campaign called “No Rules, Just Right” that puts focus on food quality and value, along with the “no worries” theme of Australian living. For Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), that slogan will embody his approach to the final three races of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Heading to Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth 12th in standings, 106 points behind Chase leaders Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson, it’s all about winning races for Newman and ending the season on a high note.
Newman opened the Chase with a 10th-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, then won the pole the following week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. Newman finished 16th, however, and began to see his title hopes fade. A 35th-place finish at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City and 38th-place finish last week at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway made those hopes disappear.
While it would take a major miracle for Newman to re-emerge as a factor in the championship Chase, he knows that by embracing a “No Rules, Just Win” attitude, he and his No. 39 team can certainly end the 2013 season on a roll. He’s got three solid chances to do so, beginning this weekend at Texas.
Newman enters Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 with a strong determination to turn around his team’s misfortunes. And while his stats may not shine in the Lone Star State, Texas is a track where the South Bend, Ind., native has long enjoyed racing thanks to the high speeds and multiple racing grooves.
In 20 starts at the 1.5-mile oval, Newman has one win, two poles, three top-five finishes and four top-10s. His lone win came in March 2003, when he started third and led 77 laps en route to the checkered flag. It was the second win of Newman’s Sprint Cup Series career.
So while Newman may be out of contention for the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, he is certainly still a factor to win each of the final three events. With a strong record at the 1.5-mile racetracks as of late, Texas is the ideal place to get started.
Talk about racing at Texas. “I always look forward to racing at Texas. I love the speed at Texas. It’s a fast racetrack. Texas is actually one of the fastest tracks we go to all year, so you have to be on top of your game because things can happen pretty quickly. It’s a track I’ve always liked, although it doesn’t necessarily show in my finishes. It’s a smooth, fast racetrack and there are multiple grooves, so it’s fun to race there. The asphalt has aged the track to the point it has gotten better and better each time we come back. What I mean is, the track has basically gotten wider. It’s gotten a bit more character. A little more bumpy, which is fine. I like it. I think, in general, the track has gotten wider and racier each time we’ve come back. It’s got less grip, but that’s fine. I’d rather slide around a little bit and be in charge of my racecar than be stuck to the racetrack.”
Do you feel like the recent performance of the No. 39 team on the 1.5 mile racetracks makes you one to watch this weekend? “There’s no better test than at Charlotte, and we had a good run there. Our team has been pretty good on the 1.5 mile racetracks. Everything from the chassis and bodies to the engine package, I feel like our base package is better than where we started out the season.”
The 2013 season is winding down. While you’re out of title contention, do you feel like you’ve still got something to prove? “We’ve been good at times this season, but not as consistently as we needed to be to contend for the championship. Having said that, we aren’t just going to give up on the rest of the season. Our goal is to get back in the top-10. I think we’re 30 points out (of the top-10) heading into Texas. I want to be one of the drivers getting up on stage at the banquet in Las Vegas.”