Close call for Stenhouse in practice. Pocono pivotal to Truex for the Chase.
LONG POND, Pa.--No, Ryan Newman’s phone didn’t start ringing off the hook on Monday, despite Rocket Man’s impressive victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway a day early.
Friends, called to express their congratulations of course, but the win didn’t change things in the immediate term as far as prospective employers for 2014 are concerned.
Though the win at the Brickyard did wonders for Newman’s resume, he feels he needs another standout performance to show teams that might be interested in hiring him that the Indy victory wasn’t a one-hit wonder.
Newman heard from a lot of people after the race, but none with a job offer.
"Nothing with respect to that," said Newman, who learned in early July that his services wouldn’t be needed at Stewart-Haas Racing next year. "It was more a matter of friends and family and people that I hadn’t talked to that have helped me in my racing career at some point in my life. Those people, I think, reached out more than anything else.
"Obviously, it didn’t hurt with respect to (potential employers), but it’s not like a light switch where you can just flip it, and everything turns on. I think it’s up to us as well to do the same thing we did last weekend and at least show that it’s not just a one-off deal--we can duplicate and replicate the things that happened. We’ll see how things go."
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. found out the hard way just how tricky Pocono’s tunnel turn can be--especially when you’re trying to downshift into the corner.
Stenhouse scraped the wall in the Tunnel Turn during Friday’s Sprint Cup practice session. The driver’s first reaction was that his No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing team would have to unload the backup car, but crew chief Scott Graves opted to repair the primary.
"I had my hands full there," Stenhouse said after the incident. I though the guys were going to have to bring me out the backup on that one for sure. I was just getting used to this race track. Last time here (in June) was the first time I ever downshifted really at an oval, so I was getting used to that.
"I didn’t downshift the first five laps through the Tunnel Turn, but then I said, ‘Hey, I’m going to downshift here and see if we can get a little extra speed.’ I downshifted a little too early, and it jumped out from under me. I thought we were bringing a backup out, but we got lucky and (only) scraped the right rear."
Whether it’s preparing a backup or repairing a primary, a brush with the wall means extra work for the crew--and Stenhouse is willing to pay the price for that.
"I owe the guys dinner now," he said. "I told them any time I scrape the wall, I owe them dinner, so now I owe them another dinner."
Indeed, the team made expeditious repairs, and Stenhouse was back on the track with more than 20 minutes left in the 90-minute session, with the right rear of the No. 17 Ford heavily taped.
Pocono pivotal to Truex
Currently 11th in the standings and first among claimants to the two available wild card spots because of his road-course victory at Sonoma, Truex would like to put Pocono in his rear-view mirror after a respectable finish at the 2.5-mile track.
Truex and his Michael Waltrip Racing teammates, Clint Bowyer and Mark Martin, struggled at Pocono in June, but Truex is looking forward to the next five tracks with relish.
"This weekend is definitely important," Truex told the NASCAR Wire Service after Friday’s practice. "I think if we can get through this race and stay kind of where we are--in touch with the top-10 and only a couple points out of that--I think we'll be in good shape. We've got some great tracks coming up for us.
"Watkins Glen, obviously really looking forward to that after what we did at Sonoma. Atlanta is coming up. It's one of my favorites. We’ve definitely got some places where we could run well--Bristol has been good for us--so I think we just need to get through this one. I feel like we can get another win before the Chase starts, and we're going to work hard to try to make that happen."
By Reid Spencer - NASCAR Wire Service