Great expectations had been placed on the rookie Winston Cup driver Ryan Newman. No one could have expected him to remain second in the overall points chase for the second week in a row. Strong finishes at the first four venues; Newman is the...
Great expectations had been placed on the rookie Winston Cup driver Ryan Newman. No one could have expected him to remain second in the overall points chase for the second week in a row.
Strong finishes at the first four venues; Newman is the only rookie driver to have finished on the lead lap at every event this year. His three top ten finishes has the Indiana native leading the Raybestos Rookie of the year standings.
Newman, who is driving for Penske South Racing has impressed many veterans including teammate Rusty Wallace.
"(Last year) He goes to Charlotte and sits on the Pole with a car equal to mine. I don't know how the heck he does that his set up is totally different, if I tried to run that set up my car would not even handle. The way he lets off the corner, is a lot different. There are a lot of things I can learn from him", notes the 1989 Champion.
Newman believes that heavy testing throughout the 2001 season is paying off for his rookie campaign.
"You've got to have a great race car to get around this place. We came here and tested, but it was 35 degrees when we came here and tested so we had our work cut out for us trying to get this thing to handle in 70-degree weather. It's amazing how much this racetrack will change with five degrees, but when you get 35 degrees that makes it even tougher. "
Teammate Wallace agrees that the rigorous testing is benefiting the 24-year-old driver.
"He tested a ton, it was really to get him acclimated to the tracks. He tested a lot with Busch and ARCA Cars, and now it is total focus on Winston Cup Cars. Before it was orientation, now he is a full teammate.
Newman's most recent effort at Atlanta he qualified second, 0.012 seconds off the pole and finished tenth.
"We got our top-10. Its kind of what we were asking for. I wished we could have done better; I know we could have done a little bit better. We just missed the balance there a little bit on that last run. I lost two or three spots there at the end. We finished with a top-10 run and I think we had a top-10 racecar.Just being able to complete 500 miles was the most important part, just to be able to complete all the laps and not have any problems. "I'm pleased with the top 10, yeah, it was a great effort for our first Winston Cup race at Atlanta but, again, I think we can do better and hopefully we'll do that next time."
Newman who began receiving national attention in 1996. He was named Rookie Of The Year in the in the USAC Silver Crown Series. He was named Champion of that series in 1999.
Competing in several different sanctioning bodies including ARCA, Newman prepared for his 2001 Winston Cup season by competing in both the Busch Grand National and selected Cup races throughout 2001.
Currently in second in the season point standings Newman remains seventy-four points behind Sterling Martin, and leads Jimmie Johnson in the overall Rookie Standings.