Bristol: Ryan Newman preview

Newman Looking to Eliminate Recent Woes as Army Colors Return to No. 39 Team BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 16, 2009) -- If there were a time to exemplify Army Strong this would be it for Ryan Newman and the No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing team as they...

Newman Looking to Eliminate Recent Woes as Army Colors Return to No. 39 Team

BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 16, 2009) -- If there were a time to exemplify Army Strong this would be it for Ryan Newman and the No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing team as they prepare for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the perilous half-mile Bristol Motor Speedway.

The short track slugfest will mark the return of the U.S. Army primary paint scheme for Newman's Chevrolet Impala SS, which last ran in full Army colors at the Feb. 15 season-opening Daytona 500.

"So far, it's been a challenging time," said Newman, who is 32nd in points after the first four races. "To be honest we've had fast cars. We know where we're at performance wise and it's a lot better than what our finishing results show. We've just had too many hiccups and unforced problems that have stalled our momentum. I am looking forward to getting back in the Army Chevy. Driving the Soldiers' car is an added inspiration."

The 31-year-old Newman, who posted finishes of 36th (Daytona), 28th (California), 25th (Las Vegas) and 22nd (Atlanta) in the four Cup races of 2009, is not fazed by the fact that if you're looking for a reversal of bad luck, there are probably better venues than the unpredictable Bristol 0.533-mile bullring.

"Though Bristol is not the same track since it was repaved a couple of years ago, it's still a place that can invite trouble," noted Newman, who finished sixth in his last race at Bristol (August, 2008). "But to me, the racing is at an all-time high at Bristol compared to the way it used to be. It's no longer a one-lane racetrack. You kind of had to root somebody out the way before and fans really liked that. But from a driver's standpoint, that's not the best way to race. You don't want to be looking in your rearview mirror and worrying about avoiding a crash."

It's been feast or famine for Newman in 14 career starts at Bristol. He has produced top-10 results in half of the races, but has also finished in the 30s six times and once in the 20s. His best Bristol result was runner-up to Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the 2004 summer race.

Newman's optimism about having a strong finish is also based on his crew chief's (Tony Gibson) experience and record at Bristol. Last year in the two Bristol races, Gibson, who worked at Dale Earnhardt Inc., guided his driver Aric Almirola to finishes of eighth and 13th.

"We'll have a strong Army Chevy for Bristol and know we can be a contending team there," said Gibson. "It's all about being error free and trouble free. That's always easier said than done, but in reality that's what needs to happen week in and week out if you're going to have success."

No. 39 Team Notes

* Newman has two poles and nine top-10 qualifying efforts at Bristol. His two poles came in the spring races of 2003 and 2004.

* Newman's other career marks at Bristol include: 6,562 laps completed, 57 laps led, 9.1 average starting position and a 20.1 average finishing position.

* Newman's finishes at Bristol last year were 33rd (spring) and sixth (summer)

* Newman has 43 career poles. His last pole was April 2008 at Phoenix

* Sunday's race will mark Newman's 265th career start. His first start was Nov. 5, 2000 in Phoenix.

-credit: shr

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Ryan Newman , Aric Almirola