Newman's focus is championship

Ryan Newman's wish list is fairly short for 2006; win the NASCAR Nextel Cup championship. Newman has best impressed with his ability to earn pole positions, but his race success has been spotty. Newman earned just one victory last season and...

Ryan Newman's wish list is fairly short for 2006; win the NASCAR Nextel Cup championship. Newman has best impressed with his ability to earn pole positions, but his race success has been spotty.

Newman earned just one victory last season and just squeezed into the Chase for the Championship. This year, Newman and Team Penske, are looking to expand on their skills to have a more consistent season.

"Our goal is to win the championship," said Newman. "I've sat here the last four years and said the same thing. We've got a great group of guys. We've got a couple of different guys this year, but we've got the same core group of guys.

"We went through a lot of troubles last year speed wise, especially on the intermediate tracks. We look forward to being able to get back to our old ways basically compared to the competitors on those tracks."

A leg up on the No. 12 Penske Dodge's goals would certainly be an explosive set of accomplishments during Speedweeks at Daytona. Newman finished 20th here last year but Penske does not have a lot of success on restrictor plate race tracks.

The only Daytona Speedweeks win Penske has is in the Bud Shootout in 1998, Newman is hoping that is something he can change.

"I think we started off strong in 2002," said Newman on his plate program. "I was pretty inexperienced and I think we finished seventh in my first 500. I think I've experienced a lot of things in the past as far as the big crashes. We've had some pretty good runs. I feel last year was as strong as we've been as far as speed and competitiveness in the racecar itself, and I feel like that helped me a lot.

"Sometimes when you're stuck in the middle of the pack you're not experiencing the things you need to do to run up front. You learn more patience and how to work the draft with other cars and maintain the best position possible. It's pretty obvious that it's difficult to lead all the laps compared to how it used to be in restrictor-plate races."

After a controversial few years with Rusty Wallace as a teammate mired in a relationship that was tenuous at best; Newman is looking forward to having Kurt Busch on board and forging the way for both of them to make the Chase and have a chance at winning the Daytona 500.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Rusty Wallace , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman
Teams Team Penske