Fontana II: Ryan Newman preview

RYAN NEWMAN Making a 'Bold' Run at Sponsor's Home Track KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (Oct. 5, 2010) -- Ryan Newman and his No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet team have been making a bold statement in recent weeks, posting three consecutive top-10 finishes and a...

Making a 'Bold' Run at Sponsor's Home Track

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (Oct. 5, 2010) -- Ryan Newman and his No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet team have been making a bold statement in recent weeks, posting three consecutive top-10 finishes and a total of five in the last six races.

Despite not making the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, Newman & Company are in the midst of their best stretch of race performances this season and are firmly focused on finishing the last seven races of the 2010 season on a high note.

Next up for the No. 39 team is Sunday's Pepsi Max 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., where Newman and his No. 39 Tornados team will be "hometown favorites."

While calling the California racetrack "home" might be a bit odd for the South Bend, Ind., native, the statement couldn't be more accurate. Ruiz Foods, the parent company of Newman's sponsor Tornados, is headquartered just 250-miles northwest of the 2-mile oval in Dinuba, Calif.

Not only is Tornados -- a bold rolled snack food that is quick and easy -- sponsoring Newman in Sunday's Sprint Cup race, but another Ruiz Foods brand -- El Monterey, America's No. 1 frozen Mexican food -- is sponsoring Newman's NASCAR Nationwide Series effort in the No. 1 Chevrolet on Saturday.

And Tornados is showing up in full force in hopes of making Auto Club Speedway feel like home for Newman and his Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) teammates as hundreds of Ruiz Foods team members will make the trek to Fontana for the weekend's events.

Newman would love nothing more than to give them something to cheer about by continuing his streak of top-10s with a performance befitting the words written on the bumper of his No. 39 Chevrolet: "Bold is How We Roll."

In 15 starts at the California track, Newman has one pole, two top-five and four top-10 finishes. The track hasn't been one of Newman's favorites in his nine-year Sprint Cup career, but his most recent effort at the 2-mile oval earlier this season gives him and the No. 39 team something to look forward to and build upon.

In February at California, engine troubles spoiled a solid top-10 run for Newman and the No. 39 team. In fact, just a couple of laps before Newman's engine expired, the No. 39 was at the front of the field, restarting the 250-lap race in second-place.

However, Newman didn't get the restart he had hoped for as he spun the tires and fell back through the field. When he crossed the start-finish line the next time on lap 147, Newman was posted in 16th-place. He circled the track one more time and had just passed the flagstand on lap 148 when smoke billowed from the No. 39 Chevrolet. Newman came over the radio and reported he had lost an engine and was no longer under power. So after being a fixture among the top-10 for much of the afternoon, Newman was relegated to a 36th-place finish.

Despite the disappointing finish, Newman was upbeat about his performance at a track that hasn't been home to his better results over the years. In fact, Newman said he felt it was the most competitive he had been at the 2-mile oval.

This weekend, Newman and his team return to the track in the midst of the their best and most successful stretch of the 2010 season, and they are looking for redemption.

In the past six races, Newman has posted five top-10 finishes, including three consecutive top-10s -- eighth at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon; eighth at Dover (Del.) International Speedway and ninth at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. In fact, Newman's only finish in the past six races outside of the top-10 was 11th at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway on Sept. 11.

For Newman, the goal this weekend is to continue his team's successful run of solid top-10s and even improve upon that streak of finishes. And this weekend could be the perfect time for him to do just that.

The last time Newman and his No. 39 Tornados team traveled out west together was in April to Phoenix International Raceway. That trip culminated with a celebration in victory lane as Newman scored his first win at SHR and the first for his sponsor Tornados.

Perhaps a second trip out west with sponsor Tornados will lead to a similar outcome for Newman and the No. 39 team. One thing is for sure -- the No. 39 Tornados team will have the support of the crowd. After all, they are the "hometown favorites."

RYAN NEWMAN, Driver of the No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet Impala for Stewart-Haas Racing:

In February, you had an engine failure about 100 laps from the end of the race at Auto Club Speedway. However, you felt like you were the most competitive you had been at the 2-mile oval. Talk about your thoughts going into this weekend.

"We had a really good car in February at California. Our No. 39 Chevy was good all day long. We were mixing it up, and I really was the most competitive I've been at California in a long time. At least that's the way I felt, even though we had the engine failure. We were working forward every run the entire race, and we showed what we are capable of out there on a couple of those long runs. I mean, two laps before the engine failure put us out of the race, I was racing for the lead. When we came to California in February, I felt like we had made some big improvements as a team on our speedway program. I think we've made some big gains on that program over this year, too. So we're looking forward to the return trip to California. Our finish in February wasn't indicative of how we were running, and it's one of those finishes we have pointed to and said hurt us when it came to the Chase and not making it this season. We definitely want to show how strong our program is and get a good finish at California this weekend."

To what do you attribute your recent streak of top-10 finishes? In the past six races, the No. 39 has five top-10s and the only finish outside of the top-10 was an 11th-place effort at Richmond.

"We've had a good start to a Chase. That unfortunately doesn't matter for us, but our goal is to do our best and go out there and try to win every race. We have seven to go. We've definitely had an impressive run. Unfortunately, I guess we put it together just a little too late in the season for us to make the Chase. We knew we had this ability in us all season to put together a consistent run and, finally, in the past six weeks, we've shown just how solid of a team we are. We didn't make the Chase, but we still have goals and we are still focused. We have seven races left, and we want to win a couple more of those races. We want to keep finishing the way we are, and we want to finish 13th in points. That's the best we can do this season, and that's what our goal is. I'm really proud of this team and their efforts this season, and I'm really proud of what we have accomplished recently. We want to end this season on a high note."

The parent company for your sponsor Tornados, Ruiz Foods, is based about 250 miles northwest of Auto Club Speedway, so this is its home track. They have a lot of events going on at the track this weekend, such as hospitality, and they are sponsoring both your Sprint Cup and Nationwide efforts this weekend. In your opinion, how important is this weekend for your sponsor?

"I'm really proud to have Ruiz Foods and both of their brands as a partner for both myself and Stewart-Haas Racing. It's been a lot of fun working with Tornados this season. They took a big chance on NASCAR, on SHR and on me. They had never been in the sport, and they wanted to do something big to bring attention to their Tornados brand. To think about how big of a chance they took, it's pretty amazing. I've had a lot of fun introducing them to the sport and working with them. Their family has become more than just a sponsor -- they are part of the SHR team and our family. I'm really honored that this weekend they decided to put their El Monterey brand on the racetrack with me and the No. 1 Phoenix Racing Chevy.

"This weekend at California, Tornados is going to be everywhere. I know they're going to be sampling the bold, rolled snacks to the race fans, and they have signage around the track. Also, they are bringing a lot of team members and family members out to the racetrack. I think they are bringing three busloads of people down to the track, and they are going to do hospitality, pit tours and even pace car rides for their team members. So they are really going to get the full experience, and I'm looking forward to spending some time with them on Sunday morning. This is really a big weekend for them, and we want to give everyone associated with Tornados something to cheer about on the track. You know, the 39 team got our first win as a team back in the spring at Phoenix, and Tornados was on board with us that weekend. So, obviously, it's been a successful partnership on that front, and we want to continue that. We're really looking forward to going back out West, and maybe by crossing the Mississippi, we'll get back to victory lane again."

Talk about racing at Auto Club Speedway.

"Unfortunately, it's not one of my favorite places to go. I have not had the best record at California. The racetrack can be a lot of fun because it's a very smooth track and super fast, but I just haven't done all that well there throughout my career. I do think we'll see some better racing at California because I think the racing has gotten better each time we've gone there. At this track, in general, the more it's aged, the better it's gotten, as with most racetracks. I think the double-file restarts help the racing a lot, too. They are more advantageous at bigger racetracks, especially the wider ones. When you have a wide racing groove like at California, the cars can get three-wide in the corners and anything can happen. California is not my favorite racetrack. I'll tell you that first-hand. But that doesn't mean we can't have a good showing there. We had a great car there this spring. I was having a lot of fun, and I was really able to mix it up on the racetrack there like I hadn't been able to before. Unfortunately, we didn't get the finish we wanted because of the engine failure. We've had good runs on the 2-mile tracks this year, so I feel like our program has made gains and improvements. I'm looking forward to getting back on track at California this weekend, and I hope we can pick up where we left off in the spring. I really think we can have another solid, top-10 run this weekend."

TONY GIBSON, Crew Chief of the No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet Impala for Stewart-Haas Racing:

The No. 39 team has been on quite a run of late. What is the goal with seven races to go?

"We are definitely running strong, and it's a shame we didn't make the Chase, considering how well we have been running. But those are the cards we were dealt. Right now, we're focused on keeping this string alive. We want to win another race or two before the season is over. We want to try and win every race. That's our focus right now. We're trying to take advantage of these next seven races and learn some things for next year, obviously. Our focus is to make sure we finish 13th in the points. That's the best we can do right now, so our goal is to finish in that position. We've got to do whatever it takes to do that. And that's going to take running in the top-10 every week because the No. 1 car is going to be strong, so we've got to make sure we put the extra effort in and beat those guys."

In February, Ryan and the No. 39 team had a great run going before the engine expired with about 100 laps remaining in the race at Fontana. In fact, he told you and the team it was the best car he had at that track in a long time. What does knowing that mean to you and this team heading back to California this weekend?

"We definitely made some huge improvements. Our previous year, we weren't very good at the mile-and-a-half and two-mile racetracks, so to go back there and run as well as we did really, really pumped our hopes up. We blew up there in February, but we actually learned a lot of stuff during the weekend that actually helped us on our 2-mile program. And I think we were even better when we went back to Michigan in August. I know we got spun out late in the race this last time we were at Michigan, but we definitely had a solid top-five, top-10 car. So going back to California with what we have learned so far and the improvements we feel we have made just makes us that much more excited.

"We've run a whole lot better on the 2-mile racetracks. We feel like we have something to prove, and we feel like that racetrack owes us a little something. We're going back out there and we're taking our Indianapolis car. There's only one race on that car. We took it to Indy and it ran really well, so we're pretty excited about getting back out there and showing what we can do on a 2-mile track."

Auto Club Speedway is the home track for the No. 39 team's sponsor Tornados. This weekend, they will have quite a large contingent of team members coming to the track, participating in hospitality and cheering the No. 39 on in the grandstands. What does that kind of support mean to you and the team?

"We want to do well every time we are on the racetrack for our sponsors. But the fact that this is sort of the home track for the Tornados people and they are bringing so many family members and team members to the race gives us some added incentive, some extra pressure to do well. We don't get to run the Tornados colors a whole lot through the year, so whenever we get the opportunity to run their scheme, we really want to run well. I mean, we got our first win as a team with them and it was their first win as a sponsor back at Phoenix, so it's almost like second isn't good enough now. It would mean a lot for us to have another good weekend with them this weekend."

-source: penske racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ryan Newman
Teams Stewart-Haas Racing , Phoenix Racing