Newman may be under the radar, but his Martinsville win is a statement he can compete with the big boys
Ryan Newman has never been a dominant driver in NASCAR’s Cup series.
While he does have an amazing collection of pole wins (49 - tying him for 10th all time and 3rd best among active drivers), he’s never put together a season that has been head and shoulders above the competition.
He has off weeks, he often slips under the radar.
But, as he proved Sunday at Martinsville, Newman knows how to come through in the clutch when we’re least expecting it.
All day Sunday, we watched three Hendrick dominate and assumed they would win.
Not far behind lurked Newman, waiting to pounce if the situation allowed it. And when chaos ensued on the first g-w-c restart, he pounced.
Newman addressed media Tuesday and talked about that restart.
“Well, I knew that the front two didn't have tires, and there was a better chance of them spinning their tires than us, at least with two tires. My intention was to get a run on Clint, which I did, then having the entirety of him blocking me and getting down and getting a run on 24, because I couldn't see that. Once he did, I just kind of backed off, and I gave him, I guess, enough courage to try to stick his nose up in there. It didn't work for him, and it worked for us. So that was just the sum of it,” Newman said, referring to the fact that Bowyer got caught up in the wreck.
He said he didn’t have any intentions to instigate a crash.
“I didn't have a specific plan other than just going forward. Obviously, I wanted to win. That was a goal. But I figured I had a shot of maybe getting two of them and getting underneath Clint and getting into one. When that didn't work out, Clint took himself and a couple others. And I'm not blaming Clint for the product of three-wide at Martinsville. I could say it was just as much as Jimmy and those guys down as it was Clint and the pack getting in there. But that's racing. It happens at Martinsville. It happens at every short track across America. There is a time when somebody will go three-wide and it doesn't work.”
It’s clear that Stewart Haas is on the rise. Starting with Tony Stewart’s amazing championship run after an anemic season, moving into this year’s great start for Stewart, and now with Newman’s win -- it’s safe to say they are a threat to win another title. It certainly doesn’t hurt that they have Hendrick equipment, as they team has set the bar for the past two decades in the Cup series.
Newman said that despite his team owner/teammmate’s success, he doesn’t compare himself to Tony.
“I don't look at it in that respect. I can't compare myself to the 14 or Tony Stewart or anybody else. All I know is I can go out there and do the best job that I physically, emotionally, and mentally can,” Newman said. “If that gets us to victory lane, then it does. If it doesn't, we need to sit back and figure out how to be better. Comparing yourself doesn't get you anywhere in my opinion.”
A guy like Newman, who has won on so many different types of racetracks, is always a wild card. You can never really count on him for sure (I know I get a little nervous if I pick him in fantasy racing, as he is hit or miss a lot of the time), but you can never really count him out. And if the team is improved, the hits will be more common than the misses.
And in the end, if that holds true and he can rack up some wins and make the Chase strongly, Stewart Haas could be celebrating a title this year with a different driver.
It’s not the safest bet by far, but to say it won’t happen would be foolish. Newman may be under the radar, but often those are the guys you need to watch out for, and you can bet the traditional front runners for the title have Newman on their radar after this weekend’s win.