Texas II: Ryan Newman preview

RYAN NEWMAN It's Time To 'Cowboy Up' KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (Nov. 4, 2009) -- As legend has it, multiple world champion bullrider Tuff Hedeman once told a fellow competitor who had just suffered a nasty spill from a bull during one of his rides, ...

RYAN NEWMAN

It's Time To 'Cowboy Up'

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (Nov. 4, 2009) -- As legend has it, multiple world champion bullrider Tuff Hedeman once told a fellow competitor who had just suffered a nasty spill from a bull during one of his rides, point blankly, to "cowboy up."

"Get back up, dust yourself off and just keep right on riding," Hedeman went on to say.

For NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman, the time to 'cowboy Forup' is now as he heads to this weekend's Dickies 500 at Texas Motor ForSpeedway in t Worth.

Last weekend at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Newman recorded his first DNF (did not finish) of the 2009 season following a harrowing crash with just five laps remaining in the AMP Energy 500. It was his first DNF since the fall Talladega race in 2008. The "Big One," so to speak, was triggered on lap 184 when the freight train of cars running the outside line, parallel to a line of cars running along the track's bottom, hiccupped as it raced down Talladega's backstretch.

A car barreled into the back of Newman, which led to a chain-reaction crash that caused Newman's No. 39 Haas Automation/U.S. Army Chevy to shoot left and into the path of Marcos Ambrose. That contact turned Newman backward, whereupon his car's aerodynamics became reversed and lifted off the ground.

After somersaulting onto its roof, the car first landed on the nose of Kevin Harvick's Chevrolet before hitting the pavement and skidding across the track and into the SAFER Barrier lining the outside retaining wall in turn three. The No. 39 Chevy finally came to rest in the soggy infield grass a few yards off the track's apron, having rolled yet again.

Safety crews quickly arrived and worked to extricate Newman from the car. The process was tedious, but Newman was able to give updates to his crew via the team radio that he was okay. With his car finally righted and the roof cut off, Newman climbed from his battered machine and walked on his own to a waiting ambulance. Following a thorough evaluation in the infield care center, Newman was released.

Although still sore and reeling from the accident that took his team out of contention five laps from the checkered flag at Talladega and resulted in his first DNF of the season, Newman is ready to get back in the saddle at Texas. His goal -- the team's first win of the 2009 season.

In 12 Sprint Cup starts at the 1.5-mile oval, Newman has two poles, three top-five finishes and three top-10s. He has also claimed victory and worn the famous cowboy hat trophy on one occasion -- in 2003, when he started third and led 77 laps en route to the win.

With just three races remaining, Newman and Company still have work to do. The Talladega crash was yesterday's news. Now, the team has its eyes focused on a win and a top-10 finish in the Sprint Cup point standings. A farm boy at heart, raising two bulls of his own named Rosco and Flash and two calves on his farm in Statesville, N.C., Newman knows what it means to pull up his boot straps and keep right on riding. And this weekend at Texas, he plans to show everyone how to "cowboy up."

RYAN NEWMAN, Driver of the No. 39 Haas Automation/U.S. Army Chevrolet Impala SS for Stewart-Haas Racing

Last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, you were involved in what was a pretty scary crash that had your car flip and barrel roll onto its roof, where it finally came to a stop in the infield grass. Everyone was happy to see you walk away from that accident on your own. How are you doing now?

"I was pretty sore after the crash. I actually chipped a couple of teeth, but other than that I'm okay. I'm still sore, but I feel better every day. I've really kind of just taken it easy this week. I've done all the normal things that I would do -- go to the race shop for debrief, spend time on my farm and at home doing the things I do every week when I have time off.

"Unfortunately, we were the victims of a bad wreck at Talladega. On the bright side of things, everything worked the way it was supposed to and I was able to walk away from a bad crash just being sore. There are a lot of people I have to say thanks to for that. I want to thank ButlerBuilt (seats), Simpson Race Products and all the guys at the shop and Hendrick Chassis for what they do to make the cars safer. I obviously tested everything last week. I also want to thank all the NASCAR fans and the people who work in the sport for their outpouring of concern. I've gotten more calls, texts, emails and notes than I could have imagined. I know people have reached out to Krissie and people at Stewart-Haas Racing, and it has just really been amazing. So, I want to say thanks to everybody for that."

You have a win, three top-five and three top-10 finishes at Texas. You finished 15th there in the spring. What are your thoughts as you head there this weekend?

"Following the race at Texas in the spring, I said that we needed to work on our mile-and-a-half program, and I feel we have definitely improved. That's not saying we still can't get better. I just believe we have been better from the time we have unloaded at these tracks as the season has progressed. I think we probably had a better car than 15th place here in the spring, but handling issues seemed to get the best of us. We've been able to improve that, and we have had some solid finishes at Charlotte and Chicago and Atlanta. We've also qualified better since then, so I'm looking forward to getting to Texas and putting the No. 39 Haas Automation/U.S. Army machine out front in qualifying.

"I always look forward to racing at Texas. I love the speed at Texas. It's a fast racetrack, and the weather should be cool, so hopefully we can haul mail. Texas is actually one of the fastest tracks that 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 the finishes. It's a smooth, fast racetrack and there are multiple grooves, so it is fun to race. The asphalt has aged the track to the point it has gotten better and better each time we come back. It's a race we look forward to.

"This weekend, we're going there for the first time with double-file restarts. I think that is going to be another bundle of excitement as we've seen at most every racetrack this year. The double-file restarts are more advantageous at bigger racetracks, especially the wider ones. I saw for the first time at Martinsville that the double-file restarts really didn't make much difference compared to the way it used to be. At Texas, you can get three- and sometimes four-wide in the corners. So to me, the bigger the racetrack, the wider the racetrack, the more the double-file restarts have an impact. I think it definitely adds some multiple levels of excitement. I think the double-file restarts have been a great addition for NASCAR, and I think Texas will be a great place for it. I'm looking forward to it."

You say that Texas Motor Speedway has matured and aged. How so?

"Basically it's gotten wider and it's gotten a bit more character. It's a little more bumpy, which is fine. The tunnel bump here in turns one and two was getting pretty big, so I'm glad they took some of the 'character' out of it. I think that, in general, the track has gotten wider and racier. It's got less grip, which is fine. I'd rather slide around a little bit and be in charge of my racecar than be stuck to the racetrack."

TONY GIBSON, Crew Chief of No. 39 Haas Automation/U.S. Army Chevrolet Impala SS for Stewart-Haas Racing

The end of the AMP Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway was pretty intense, to say the least, for the No. 39 team. How is Ryan doing following the wreck? As dramatic as the wrecks are, in many ways they also prove to be beneficial for the race team. What are you learning from Ryan's wreck last weekend that might help this team in the future?

"I talked to Ryan after the wreck on Sunday and then he came to the race shop on Monday. He was okay. He chipped a couple of teeth, and he was sore, but that was to be expected. I guess the best way to say it was he was out riding his tractor on the farm on Monday morning, and he came to the shop in the afternoon for team debrief.

"For us, it was kind of ironic -- the timing of the wreck and everything that happened with Ryan after the wreck. He said he couldn't get his helmet off because of where the roll cage ended up after he slid down the track on his roof. Well, we had already been in the process of moving his seats down in the car back at the race shop. That just gets his head further down and gets his whole body lower in the car. It's just weird that three weeks ago we started looking at how to get his weight lower in the car. At the time, we weren't really thinking about the head, but just getting his weight lower in the car. The wreck on Sunday makes us look at other areas, too. We can see why it's an advantage and safer to get his body lower in the car. There are two things we are doing -- his neck and shoulders are all lower from the roll cage so he has more protection from a side hit, and it obviously gets his head lower from that bar on the roll cage. So, we had already had a car rigged up with the lower seat for Ryan to try out on Monday. Timing-wise, it was ironic because we had planned all along for him to come in on Monday and sit in that car to see what he thought. It was just kind of strange. We had him get in the car and try it out, and it's something we're going to continue working on. We spent all day Monday looking at the car from Talladega and studying it. NASCAR came over to the shop, too. We looked at the interior, and everything really looked great. It wasn't compromised. Nothing moved at all."

Although the No. 39 Haas Automation/U.S. Army team is out of contention for the championship with just three races to go in the 2009 season, the team still has goals and there are still positions to be gained in the standings. Can you talk a little bit about how you address the next three weeks and what this team would like to accomplish?

"We know we are out of contention for the championship, but we still have three races and our goals are the same. We want to keep finishing high, get top-10 and top-five finishes, and make sure that we finish in the top-10 in points. We want to try to win a race. That's been our goal this whole season. Our goal right now is just to win. We want to finish in the top-10 in points. We feel like that's where we have run most of the year. We have been a solid top-10 car and top-10 team. We just want to make sure we stay in the top-10 and finish there. That's pretty important to us. More important right now is to get that first win, and we have a few more shots to do that.

"We feel like our mile-and-a-half program has really improved over the course of the year. Obviously, our Charlotte program was good. We were good at Chicago, and we ran well at Kansas but we didn't get a good finish there. We've definitely improved since we started this season, and I think we'll have a good weekend ahead of us at Texas. We're trying things chassis-wise the next few races to work on for next year. Since there is no testing, we're trying to use as many of these races as we can to try some things and get a jump on next year. But, more than anything, we want to get that first win."

-credit: shr

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kevin Harvick , Ryan Newman , Marcos Ambrose
Teams Stewart-Haas Racing